Defending Asian Para Games Sitting Volleyball champions China and Iran are expected to once again be the teams to beat in the women’s and men’s competitions respectively, when the 2018 edition begins in Jakarta, Indonesia on Sunday.
Four years ago, world No 2 China beat Iran in the women’s final in straight sets while world champions Iran beat China in the men’s final by the same scoreline. It was a similar story when the Asian Para Games made its debut in 2010 with the Chinese women beating Japan for gold and Iran proving too good for China in the men’s competition. The same results are expected in Jakarta following the two teams’ excellent performances at the 2018 World ParaVolley Sitting Volleyball World Championships in the Netherlands in July.China, world champions in 2010 and 2014, finished third in Rotterdam while Iran claimed their seventh World Championship title in The Hague, qualifying for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games in the process.
2.46m tall Morteza Mehrzadselakjani will be once again the key player for the Olympic champions and says following his side’s success at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, Super 6 and World Championships he’s aiming for more chances to celebrate building up towards Tokyo 2020.
“The World Championships was important for us, following on from our recent successes. We had to prove that we had not won by chance and this was a good start ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics,” the International Paralympic Committee’s Allianz Athlete of the Month for July said after the World Championship win.A total of eight men’s and five women’s teams have entered the competition (same number as the 2014 edition) which will take place at the GBK – Tennis Indoor Arena.
The additional women’s teams include hosts Indonesia, Iran, Japan and Mongolia. The men’s teams include 2014 winners Iran, China, Indonesia, Iraq, Japan, Kazakhstan, Korea and Myanmar.
At the Women’s World Championship, Iran beat Japan 3-1 (21-25, 25-15, 25-12, 25-17) in the playoff for ninth while Indonesia and Mongolia did not participate.
In the Men’s World Championship, in addition to Iran’s gold-medal-winning performance which included a 3-0 (25-8, 25-9, 25-16) win over Japan in pool play, China finished seventh, Kazakhstan ninth, while Iraq beat Japan 3-0 (25-13, 25-22, 25-21) on their way to finishing 14th and 15th respectively.