In a repeat of four years ago, China will play Iran in both the women’s and men’s finals in the Sitting Volleyball competition at the 2018 Asian Para Games after all four teams comfortably won their semifinals at the GBK – Tennis Indoor Arena in Jakarta, Indonesia on Wednesday.
China women and Iran men have won the gold medal at all previous (two) editions of Sitting Volleyball at the Asian Para Games and are hot favourites to make it three in a row when the finals take place on Thursday.
Wednesday saw women’s top seeds and world No. 2 China beat hosts Indonesia 3-0 (25-14, 25-14, 25-10) while second seeds and world No. 5 Iran were too good for Japan, ranked 10th in the world, winning 3-0 (25-17, 25-14, 25-10) – in a repeat of the semifinal result four years ago.
Earlier in the day, China beat Indonesia in the final Preliminary Round pool game 3-0 (25-10, 25-9, 25-12) to finish top of the women’s group and confirming Indonesia in fourth and another encounter between the two teams in the semifinals.
China are the hot favourites to win gold having beaten Iran 3-0 (25-15, 25-12, 25-15) in the Asian Para Games Sitting Volleyball final four years ago while the two teams also met recently at the 2018 World ParaVolley Sitting Volleyball World Championships in July with China winning their pool game 3-0 (25-15, 25-17, 25-18) before going on to finish third while Iran finished ninth.
Meanwhile, the men’s semifinals were a repeat of the 2014 Asian Para Games in Incheon, Korea with world and Paralympic champions Iran beating world No. 11 Iraq 3-0 (25-8, 25-12, 25-19) while world No. 6 China were too good for Kazakhstan, ranked 10th in the world, winning 3-1 (25-23, 25-21, 15-25, 25-21).
The men’s final will see if China can beat Iran’s stranglehold on the men’s Sitting Volleyball titles but with the tallest athlete at the 2018 Asian Para Games in their midst – 2.46m Morteza Mehrzadselakjani – Iran are hot favourites to win their third Asian Para Games crown in three editions.
Previous results between the two finalists saw Iran beat China 3-0 (25-12, 25-20, 29-27) in the final four years ago and by a 3-1 scoreline in 2010 while in pool play at this tournament, Iran beat China 3-0 (25-18, 25-12, 25-15) on Tuesday.
In the classification matches on Wednesday, Myanmar pulled off a surprise 3-1 (18-25, 25-23, 25-21, 25-18) win over world No. 10 Japan to finish fifth – an improvement on their seventh place finish four years ago – while Korea proved too good for debutants Indonesia winning 3-0 (25-13, 25-16, 25-12) to claim seventh place – on the back of a fourth (in 2010) and a fifth (in 2014).
The men’s and women’s bronze medal matches will start proceedings on Thursday followed by the finals.
Photo 1: Murdiyan Murdiyan sets as Indonesia suffered a straight sets defeat at the hands of the defending champions and top seeds China in the semifinals
Photo 2: Iranian captain Masoumeh Zarei Barouti tries to beat the block of Mongolia’s Oyunjargal Narantuya
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