Asian American table tennis player
Winning moment: Seidenfeld, 20, from Lakeville, Minn., defeated the Danish defending champion 11-9, 11-8 and 11-8 in the men’s table tennis Class 6 held at the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium. He was photographed running to hug his coach and father, Mitchell, as they celebrated his 3-0 victory.
- “When he started to play table tennis, I knew that he would want to be good,” Mitchell told Team USA. “And he’s had to deal with a lot of pressure because he had to become a gold medalist. And it’s very difficult.”
- Seidenfeld reportedly started playing table tennis when he was 4 or 5 years old. He began competing internationally at 12.
- Mitchell said their strategy against Rosenmeier was to control him and prevent him from making “great shots.” They wanted to make him “work for the points.”
- Seidenfeld initially thought Rosenmeier would beat him in the finals. This is because the Danish athlete defeated him 3-2 in the preliminary round.
- “I respect Rosenmeier more than any Class 6 (player), and most Para players, so I just took that into the game — knowing that he would compete really hard. So, I had to compete really hard, too,” Seindenfeld said.
Carrying the torch: Mitchell is a legend in the Para table tennis field, having won four Paralympic medals. These include a gold at the 1992 Barcelona Paralympic Games and silver at the 2008 Atlanta Paralympic Games.
- Mitchell is now the coach of Team USA’s Paralympic table tennis squad, reported Jewish Exponent.
- Although the Seidenfelds have created a bond over table tennis, Ian said the father-son dynamic does not always go smoothly.
- “We’ve always had this problem where I don’t quite listen to him because he’s my dad,” Ian said. “I respect him, I respect everything he says and does, he’s a great player, but from the father-son aspect, we always butt heads a little bit more than I might another coach. But it’s great to have him. He’s the smartest table tennis player I know for sure.”
A shared condition:
Both Seidenfelds suffer from a genetic bone growth disorder called pseudoachondroplasia dwarfism
. This makes them qualified to compete in Class 6.
- “Players in this class stand, yet they have severe impairments in both their arms and legs due to incomplete spinal-cord injuries, neurological conditions which affect both or one side of the body, amputations or congenital conditions,” the International Paralympic Committee explained. “Some players even handle the racket with their mouths.”