After narrowly missing out on qualifying for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics due to not having an international ranking, Para table tennis player Junjian (Jessy) Chen has made a spirited debut at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.
The 32-year-old faced tough competition in the men’s singles classes 3-5 qualifying rounds, coming up against England’s Jack Hunter-Spivey, the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic bronze medallist, in his opening match. The Paralympian was too strong for debutant Jessy, taking the match 3-0.
Jessy put up a strong fight in his second match against another experienced player, Muhammad Mudasser of Canada, taking the match to five sets before falling 3-2.
In his final qualifying round match, the Kurt Fearnley 2021/22 scholarship recipient faced Nigeria’s Nasiru Sulu, a five-time Paralympian, who claimed victory in straight sets to progress to the semi-finals.
Originally from southern China, Jessy and his family moved to the Solomon Islands in 2006 when he was a teenager. Shortly after their arrival racial tensions and political violence escalated and Jessy was paralysed in a racist attack.
After spending a year in hospital, Jessy and his family made a decision to move to Australia to help with his rehabilitation and live in a safer environment. In 2016, when he visited a rehabilitation clinic in Sydney, Jessy found a table tennis table which quickly ignited a passion for the sport.
Since then, the NSW Institute of Sport (NSWIS) scholarship holder has gone on to win gold at the 2019 ITTF Oceania Para Championships in the singles class 3-category.