Sam von Einem wins silver in Tokyo
SASI athlete Sam von Einem has claimed the Men’s Singles Class 11 Table Tennis silver medal at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
It came down to the wire but ultimately Sam went down to world number one, Hungarian Peter Palos in a tightly contested five-game match (11-6, 7-11, 11-7, 6-11, 9-11).
The Adelaide native came agonisingly close to winning Australia’s first gold medal in para-table tennis since 1984, with only two points separating the competitors in the final game.
von Einem won the first and third game of the dramatic match but was pulled back by the resilient Palos.
The Hungarian gained an early lead in the final game, but von Einem never gave up and managed to come back within two points - but was unable to deny Palos his third gold medal.
Giving it his all right until the end, the SASI athlete came away with his second Paralympics silver medal and was very happy with his efforts.
“Silver is a fantastic achievement which is still very hard to get,” von Einem said.
“I’m super proud of myself to make it this far.
“For the time being I’ll keep training at home in Adelaide and keep trying to improve, and hopefully in Paris I’ll be able to achieve one better than silver.”
One of the key people involved in the 26-year-old’s Paralympics preparation was SASI Strength & Conditioning Coach Kent Dredge.
“Initially, I was disappointed for Sam because I knew that he really wanted the gold after his silver in Rio,” Dredge explained.
“But on the other side I’m just so happy for him after all the hard work he’s done over the past five years with a lot of ups and downs, including being unable to compete against international athletes.”
Dredge has been exchanging messages with the SASI athlete during his time in Tokyo and shared the text von Einem sent him after the match.
“Sorry Kent, just couldn’t get it done *sad face emoji*.”
“Sam was obviously a bit disappointed because he was really focused on winning the gold, but I’ve seen photos of him since the match and it looks like he’s happy.”
The SASI Strength & Conditioning Coach added that one of von Einem’s greatest achievements in Tokyo actually came in the match prior to the gold medal contest.
“What’s important to recognise is the semi-final Sam played against Belgium’s Florian van Acker, who beat Sam in five games in the gold medal match in Rio, was the first time he has ever beaten van Acker.
“Sam’s coach, skills acquisition lead and I worked really hard on a plan to beat van Acker because we expected Sam to verse him in the gold medal match - and he beat him!
“That to us was awesome!”
Dredge has been von Einem’s Strength & Conditioning Coach for seven years now and has been heavily part of his journey to Rio and now Tokyo.
“Over the years my role has mostly been writing his strength program and doing the conditioning work to get him in the right shape.
“For the 3-6 months leading into Tokyo, we would do three sessions a week together- two were gym and strength focused and one was purely about stretching and recovery protocols.
“Sam works a lot on his isometric squat holding, lateral bounding, quick conditioning and having a powerful stroke.”
While von Einem was unable to come home with the gold, he has made Australia so proud by winning his second Paralympics silver medal.
“We are all so proud of him and what he has achieved,” Dredge said.
“We’re now looking forward to Paris 2024 for him to finally achieve that gold medal he’s been working so hard for.”