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In this blog you will get to follow Compello employee Martin Polash who has set the ambitious goal of competing in table tennis at the Paralympics in 2020. Besides following Martin’s exciting journey, peaks and valleys, you will get to read about other inspirational topics of importance including diversity, bullying, disability in the workplace and more. Hop on!

My encounter with Para Table Tennis

Picture of Martin A Polash

Written by Martin A Polash

Martin works as a Partner Account Manager at Compello. This is how he describes himself: I’m a passionate table tennis player with an ambitious goal; to compete at the Paralympics in Tokyo 2020. I blog to inspire, and to raise awareness of para sports and all our amazing athletes. I have an awesome son and wife who is also my best friend. I’m fortunate to work for my sponsor Compello, selling software services for digital invoicing processes.

Everything changed when I met another coach, Philip Sangchin, who rejuvenated my table tennis dreams that I thought were lost. He introduced me to para table tennis. This is table tennis for persons with physical disabilities.

He invited and offered me a ride to a para tournament in Southampton. Para table tennis has 10 classes, class 6-10 are for standing players. (There’s also a class 11 for players with mental disabilities). Class 10 players have the least physical impairments. Class 1-5 are those who play seated. I was classified as a “class 7” player

It was such an eye opener for me, a person with CP to see these “disabled athletes” do things that left me in awe!

I probably had the most difficult opponent in my group. Internationally famed, David Wetherill, of team GB. Needless to say, he destroyed me! If you don’t know Dave you’ve might have seen his viral video from Paralympics in London 2012. By the off chance that you haven’t seen it, check out the video and be amazed.

Despite the loss to Dave, I managed to reach the semifinals and finished at a shared third place.

After the good results at the tournament Philip suggested that I should give it a go.
IT being, playing table tennis with a focus on the para tournaments. Baiting me with “You could make the National team”.

That put a fire in me that is still burning strong. I was set on making it and playing in the Paralympics.

I got to work with Philip, adjusting my game to fit the para style of play.
In the para game, Philip explained that we should transform me to an awkward player. Meaning tweaking my stance, the way I hit the ball, alternating speeds, utilizing angles like I’d never done before. I even changed my paddle with one side having a thinner rubber with a lot grip for maximum speed and spin effect. On the other, a thicker rubber and quite dull to slow down the game.

I know, I’m being very technical and purposefully so. I want to show those of you who are new to table tennis and might think that “any paddle will do” that table tennis is a very complex game. Philip explained, and I’ve experienced in the few years playing para tournaments that, it’s very much about the equipment you use. I quickly understood and concluded that para table tennis is all about exploiting your opponent’s weaknesses more than anything. This was perfect for me as that’s exactly how I played as a youth.

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A couple months later I played in the British National championships in Bristol. I was set on winning the whole thing. I didn’t. But I was one match point from doing so! I lost 3-2 in a close fight and won Silver. My come back was REAL. Disclaimer, Will Bayley, Rio Paralympic gold medalist and current world ranked nr 2 was injured and did not play.

This propelled my move “back home” to Sweden in the hopes of breaking into the Swedish National team.

Fast forward to now 3 years later and together with my partnership with Compello and their support, I’m now at the cusp of something BIG...

Stay tuned!

/Martin

 

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Did you know that...
  • 40 million people compete in table tennis worldwide.
  • The ping-pong ball can reach a speed of 160 km/h
  • Table tennis is also called ping-pong, gossima, whiff-whaff, flim-flame
  • Table tennis is among the summer olympic games, and was introduced for the first time in 1988 in Seoul, South Korea

Also read:

From a young boy's dream to a family man's realization

Compello proud sponsor of Martin Polash - we will win together!