Partyka is widely admired among her competitors worldwide.
I remember the first time I saw Natalia was four years ago, at the Junior World Championships in Stanford [Calif.], and I was amazed at how good she was, said U.S. player Lily Zhang after the Americans lost 3-0 to Japan on Friday. She is such an inspiration to all of us. She doesnt let her disability slow her down.
Ariel Hsing, also of the U.S. team, added: Natalia is absolutely amazing. I really admire her and respect her. She is so brave for putting herself out there and playing with the best in the world. I dont think she knows me, but I definitely know her.
Her Polish teammates said Partyka has made the sport more popular in their country.
Because of Natalias story, the television and media are paying attention to table tennis now, Katarzyna Grzybowska said. They take notice in our big tournaments and our results and we get a lot of fans at our competitions. Everybody supports her and wants to see her play. But she personally never makes a big deal of it. She hasnt had a hand her whole life, so shes used to it. And were all used to it, too. When I play against her in practice, I dont even notice.
Partyka has been particularly interested in the Pistorius story because she can relate on some level.
Its different because he has no legs, but he is a Paralympian competing in the able-bodied Olympics like me, so that we have in common, she said. I think both of us can make a difference, especially with disabled people, to prove we can be top-level athletes and compete against the best. There is no need to feel inferior.