BTTAD Chairman resigns

After six years as Chairman of BTTAD Peter Taylor has decided to resign from November 12 but will remain on the Board until the next AGM. His decision is based around his need to find time and energy to cope with current family health issues as well as to help with the leadership of the planning process from early 2015 – the start of the planning for the 2017/21 Tokyo cycle for the Performance Programme.

Peter will continue to undertake his current roles on Competitions Committee particularly in connection with the Ranking List. He will also be continuing as an elected member of the European Para TT Committee as nominated by Table Tennis England.

Peter has a unique period of service to BTTAD; he was involved in the very start in 1993 bringing together previous organisations and has served on National Committee for 21 years before incorporation brought the current Board and Executive Committee into existence. He has served in various roles – including Secretary, Championships Organiser and Vice-Chairman – before being elected as Chairman in 2008. He was elected as Chairman of the Board earlier this year.

The obvious highlight of his service as Chairman has been the development of the UK Sport funded Performance Programme leading to the four medal successes at London 2012 but hand in hand with that has been the development of robust and required governance processes including incorporation in which he has played a major role.

The role of Chairman is an immensely demanding and responsible one in the world of corporate processes, representation on partner bodies and external funding requirements but Peter has never forgotten that BTTAD serves all its 130 members and not just a few. He has always been a leading light at the National Championships and no doubt will be again in 2015 and beyond.

BTTAD sends its thanks and best wishes to Peter and his wife Mary – a staunch supporter of BTTAD. The Board will meet shortly and further communications will follow.

Ted Inge – BTTAD President remembered as follows….

Ted Inge (1926 – 2014)

President, BTTAD  (1993-2014)   

remembered as follows….

By Peter Taylor, Chairman, BTTAD and John Jenkins, Vice President, BTTAD, and President, SportsAble, former GB Paralympic Table Tennis Player. 

It is with great regret that I inform the members of the BTTAD of the passing of one of the key figures in the development of disability table tennis during the 70’s and 80’s, both in GB and on the world stage.     Ted was a driving force of not only GB Para Table tennis but World TT in the early days.

Ted became the team coach of the Paraplegic Squad heading up training and team selection and organising various international trips.  His first ‘major’ was the 1972 Paralympics in Heidelberg followed by the Commonwealth Games in 1974 in Dunedin, New Zealand.     Over the ensuing years, he led the GB Team through many European and World Championships and several Paralympic Games until the early 90’s with the Barcelona Paralympics in 1992 being his last.  He .became a member of the International Table Tennis Federation Para Table Tennis Division and then the secretary for the Seoul Paralympic Games table tennis event in 1988.

BTTAD was formed in 1993 after Ted had retired from the international scene but his contribution to wheelchair table tennis made him an excellent choice for President of the newly formed Association – a role he has occupied ever since.

He attended some of our early National Championships and the passion which had been so evident in the 70’s and 80’s was still there.    Ill health meant that he was unable to continue to attend our events.     Ted Inge was a man who achieved much in his lifetime and the contribution he made to the development of Disability Table Tennis was very considerable.

Disability Table Tennis has lost one of its legends in the passing of Ted Inge.    Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this time.

Peter Taylor

Chairman  BTTAD

 

John Jenkins, Vice President, BTTAD, and President, SportsAble, former GB Paralympic Table Tennis Player. 

The following is the main text of the words John spoke at Ted’s funeral

TED INGE

“Ted first got involved in wheelchair table tennis in the late 1960s. He was a coach for his Sittingbourne Table Tennis club and was invited to Medway Table Tennis Club, for disabled players, where he started coaching too. A few wheelchair players, among them Ernie Fisher & Mike Oliver, who had experience of the National Paraplegic Games at Stoke Mandeville persuaded him to attend first a National Games in 1969 and then the training sessions at Stoke Mandeville. He quickly developed a passion for the wheelchair game and joined the small volunteer team of table tennis administrators /referees, notably Iris Moss and Stu Dane, who ran table tennis at Stoke – the Nationals, Internationals and training sessions. Ted became the team coach of the Paraplegic Squad heading up training and team selection and organising various international trips. His first ‘major’ was the 1972 Paralympics in Heidelberg followed by the Commonwealth Games in 1974 in Dunedin, New Zealand. Over the ensuing years, he led the GB Team through many European and World Championships and several Paralympic Games until the early 90’s with the Barcelona Paralympics in 1992 being his last. Failing eyesight at that time limited his playing and coaching activity as well as his ability to travel.

Ted was greatly respected for not only for his dedication to disability table tennis, particularly wheelchair table tennis, but also for his coaching ability and always for his sense of humour – that infectious chuckle and twinkle in his eye. He was greatly admired by the players for his ability to stoically represent table tennis to the ‘powers that be’ on the selection committees ensuring the sport had its fair share of budget and team places in the GB Paralympic Teams. And it was Ted who consolidated GB’s position and ranking as one of the leading nations in the sport in the world’s disability table tennis arena.

Ted’s standing and reputation was not limited to the UK as he was admired throughout the disability table tennis world becoming a member of the International Table Tennis Federation Para Table Tennis Division and then the secretary for the Seoul Paralympic Games table tennis event in 1988. This respect for Ted was evidenced when at the 1987 European Championships all the 250 players from 18 countries participating in the tournament gave him a rousing ovation, never previously witnessed. In 1993, Ted became first and only President of the foundling BTTAD, which is now the governing body of disability table tennis in Great Britain. And in 2000, Ted was presented the Stoke Mandeville based WheelPower “Service to Wheelchair Sport” award in 2000 in recognition of his contribution to the sport he loved.

 

Personally, I owe a lot to Ted and I will always be grateful to him. He was a great friend and helped me enormously to develop my game giving me the opportunity to represent Great Britain for over 10 years playing the great sport of table tennis all over the world. Whenever I think of Ted, I smile. Either for the way he used to curse my temperamental fore-hand or for snatching my back-hand or for the occasions we shared laughing and telling stories of times gone by. I know he will be greatly missed by all his many friends in the table tennis fraternity as well as in his many other circles. I know when they think of Ted, they will smile too.”

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INDEPENDENT NON –EXECUTIVE DIRECTORS

BRITISH TABLE TENNIS ASSOCIATION FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES   (BTTAD)

INDEPENDENT NON –EXECUTIVE DIRECTORS

BTTAD is the recognised National Governing Body for Disability Table Tennis in the UK. Following a  major review and subsequent investment from UK Sport, 4 medals were achieved at the London 2012 Paralympics and   at least a similar medal tally at  the Rio Games in 2016 is anticipated.   In addition, BTTAD  runs a domestic competitions programme  and participates successfully in other international events . It seeks to work closely with Home Country Associations and Disability Organisations to influence and develop disability table tennis domestically and internationally.

Following a review of the governance structure in early 2014, BTTAD is now a charitable company limited by guarantee and wishes to appoint 2 Independent Non- Executive Directors in addition to the 3 Non- Executive Directors elected by BTTAD members. Board meets up to 4 times a year normally in Sheffield or the Midlands. This is a voluntary role but reasonable expenses will be paid for travel and other out of pocket expenses.

We are looking for individuals who can contribute to the strategic leadership of the sport and provide appropriate leadership and support to the executive team. The appointments would be for an initial period of 4 years, but members would be eligible to stand for reappointment at the end of their first term to a maximum of 8 years. Previous experience of working on a board is not essential;  however  all members are required to understand and demonstrate their commitment to the vital role the board plays in developing the sport and help the organisation to meet its legal and regulatory requirements.

If you are passionate about sport and would welcome the opportunity to work with us, please forward a brief CV and  a one page supporting statement which outlines your relevant skills and experiences to the Company Secretary, Mike Smith, at mike.gr.smith@btinternet.com  by November 30th with interviews held in  December  and appointment starting in January 2015.

 

Shilton takes team gold in Cote d’Azur International

20141027_094407The GB Para Table Tennis Team finished the first Cote d’Azur International in Hyères les Palmiers on a high today when 16 year old Billy Shilton and Swedish partner Nicklas Westerberg took gold in the men’s class 7 team event. Kim Daybell and Ashley Facey Thompson won a bronze in the men’s class 10 team event and Paisley’s Martin Perry claimed a men’s class 6 team bronze with his partner Domingo Arguello from Costa Rica.

Billy Shilton action 6 2014Shilton, from Stonehouse in Gloucestershire, and Westerberg reached the final with a 3-0 win over Argentina in the morning’s semi-final. Westerberg beat Pablo Ferro 3-0 and Shilton defeated Aleksy Kaniuka by the same score and they went on to clinch the tie with a 3-0 win in the doubles.

That took them through to face the Brazilian/German combination of Felipe Figueiredo Formentin and Jorg Schnelder in the final – a repeat of their group match yesterday which Shilton and Westerberg had won 3-2. In the opening singles against the Brazilian Shilton held his nerve to take a very close opening set 16-14 and went on to take the next two sets 5 and 6 to put his team 1-0 up. Westerberg then played a great match to beat the powerful Schnelder 3-1 and avenge his defeat by the German yesterday before combining with Shilton to win the doubles 3-0 and the final 3-0.

“I knew that if I won the first set I would have a very good chance to win the game,” said Shilton, “and it was really close but luckily I managed to pull through. I think I relaxed then and I was playing really well – I knew that if I played my best it would be difficult for him to beat me. We played really well in the doubles – we haven’t played together before this tournament so to win comfortably was really good.”

It was a great performance by Shilton, who was winning the second gold medal of his short international career and is a real prospect for the future.

“This gold medal means a lot more because when I won gold in Slovenia I was watching Will (Bayley) and Paul (Karabardak) and getting inspiration from what they were doing so to do it on my own with Nicklas is fantastic. I think I’ve improved a lot this year and all the coaches have really helped me. This is going to drive me on and keep me training hard so hopefully I can keep on improving.”

Daybell and Facey Thompson had a tough semi-final against a talented Dutch team. In the opening singles Facey Thompson played well against the higher ranked Gerben Last but the Dutchman showed his greater experience in the big points to win 3-1. In the second singles world number eight Bas Hergelink produced his best form against Daybell, who could not find his touch today and although the Leeds University medical student levelled at 1-1 he could not prevent Hergelink from taking the match 3-1 with some stunning winners. The GB pair rallied bravely to take the doubles 3-1 but Daybell has played a lot of matches recently and although he fought hard he had no reserves left for the fourth singles which Last won 3-1 to take the Dutch into the final.

Kim Daybell 4“It was hard,” admitted 22 year old Daybell. “We’ve both played a lot of matches this tournament and we were feeling it today but we gave it our best shot and I think we played against a very good team and we gave them a run for their money. Table tennis is so fast and you have to make sure your movement is on point and you are as sharp as you can be and that showed up today, especially with me as I felt a bit sluggish, but it wasn’t a bad performance.”

Winning all their doubles matches in this tournament against some of the top European teams augurs well for next season and Rio in 2016.

Ashley Facey Thompson action 3 2014“We’ve played well here in doubles,” said Facey Thompson, “and this is our first team event together for a while so I’m happy with that. I’m really happy to have won two medals – I’m disappointed not to have got to the final in either singles or team but it was good overall and I’m happy to have a bronze in both.”

The 19 year old Sheffield based Londoner has also shown great improvement this season with wins over top ten players and has a promising future.

“I’m happy with the way things are going,” he said. “I’ve been working hard in training, playing better and believing in myself more. Everything is coming together – I’ve got things to work on in training but I’m making progress and I just need to keep on progressing.”

Having won their first three matches in the round-robin men’s class 6 team event Perry and Arguello knew that a win in their final match against Germany would give them the gold medal. Singles gold medalist Thomasz Kusiak was too strong for Arguello in the opening singles and although Perry won the first set against Tim Laue and had chances to win the next three the German showed his experience in taking the match 3-1. Arguello and Perry took a 2-1 lead in the doubles but the German pair came back to win a tight fourth set and took the match 11-4 in the fifth.

With Germany then losing 3-2 to Sweden in their final match that left GB/Costa Rica, Sweden and Germany with three wins and one loss each so the medals were decided on count-back with Germany taking gold, Sweden silver and Perry and Arguello the bronze.

Martin Perry action“I had chances to win my singles,” said Perry. “I was 1-0 up and 5-0 in two of the sets so I’m a bit frustrated and disappointed with myself but Laue is a very experienced player and he knows how to play long and important matches. I thought we played great in the doubles; it was just unfortunate that in the fifth set they managed to get a good lead and keep it. I feel it was another match we should have won with the chances we created for ourselves.”

Having reached his first singles final and taken two medals here the 20 year old has made good progress this season.

“It’s been a fantastic tournament for me,” he said, “I’ve picked up some good wins and I think I’ve competed really well. I just need to make sure I push on now and train just as hard as I have been because I’ve seen the results here and the hard work I’ve been doing at home is paying off.”

Welshman Tom Matthews and his American partner Sebastian Defrancesco played their final match in the round-robin men’s class 1 team event today against a Korean/French team and Matthews produced a determined performance to come back from 1-2 down against the Frenchman Cyril Hernandez and take the match 11-4 in the fifth. After losing a tight doubles match 3-2 Matthews took a 2-0 lead against world number seven Hae-kon Lee and came back from 0-6 in the third set to level at 8-8. But the Korean used his experience to take the set 11-8 and despite a brave fight by Matthews Lee took the match 3-2 to clinch the tie for his team.

Tom Matthews action“I was pleased to get another win,” said Matthews, “but I forced things too much and made too many errors so I need to sort that out. It was a good game against Lee. I need to work on controlling my nerves and improving my game generally; my touch play is good but my attack and blocking need to improve and also my serve. It will come in the end. In my last tournament I was beaten 3-0 by Marcus Sieger and I took him close here so it shows I’m coming on and that’s the main thing.”

GB Performance Director Gorazd Vecko was pleased with his young team’s performance. “Overall I’m happy with the performance especially with Ross Wilson coming back in his first international since London 2012 to take gold in the singles, which was very encouraging. Kim Daybell maintained his good form from the Worlds and didn’t lose a set in the singles event, winning the gold medal against some really good players. With two gold medals Megan Shackleton had the best performance of all the athletes here and if she continues working hard she can bring home major medals in the future. Pathway player Billy Shilton showed really good performance and we know what we need to work on with him to make him a world class player. We finished with nine medals, including five golds, and the young players know that if they work hard they have a bright future.”

Second gold for Shackleton in France

Teenager Megan Shackleton won her second gold medal at the at the first Cote d’Azur International in Hyères les Palmiers today when she and her Israeli partner Caroline Tabib won the women’s class 4-5 team event. The GB team is also assured of at least two more medals tomorrow as Kim Daybell and Ashley Facey Thompson are through to the semi-finals of the men’s class 10 event and 16 year old Billy Shilton and his Swedish partner Nicklas Westerberg will contest the semi-finals of the men’s class 7 event.

Megan Shackleton April 2014 1After a 3-1 win against Russia yesterday 15 year old Shackleton and Tabib started today with a 3-0 win against France. With the women’s class 4-5 team event played in a round-robin format they needed to win their final match against a combined team from Germany, Norway and the Netherlands to take the gold medal. Shackleton gave them the perfect start by beating Laurance Taburet from Germany 3-0 and Tabib then defeated the Norwegian Sabine Femtehjel by the same score. The pair always looked in command against Taburet and Moerdijk of the Netherlands and won the doubles 3-0 on their third match point to clinch the gold.

“I’ve played well for most of the tournament,” said Shackleton, who has not lost a match here in either singles or team. “I’m really happy with how I’ve done and training is paying off. Caroline and I are a similar age and we’re on the same wavelength and it’s nice to have someone on your team who wants to win just as much as you do. Knowing that I’ve won two gold medals is going to give me a lot of confidence – I’ve played consistently through the tournament and hopefully I can continue to do that next season. There’s still a lot of room for improvement.”

Kim Daybell 6Daybell and Facey Thompson had started their team event with a 3-0 win against Brazil yesterday and began today with a tough match against Russia. Daybell struggled to find his form against Vladimir Glasov in a 0-3 loss and although Facey Thompson made a good start against Pavel Lukyjanov the class 10 world number ten came back to win the match 3-1. At 0-2 down in the doubles the GB pair looked down and out but they fought back superbly to win 3-2 and Daybell then dug deep to beat Lukyjanov in three tight sets. In the deciding tie Facey Thompson, a class 9 player, again started well against Glasov but the imposing class 10 Russian was not to be denied and clinched the match and the tie 12-10 in the fourth.

Ashley Facey Thompson action 2014 (2)That left the GB pair needing to beat the combined team of Linus Karlsson from Sweden and Irishman Thomas Davis. The doubles again proved crucial with Daybell and Facey Thompson recovering from 5-8 down in the fifth to take the deciding set 11-9 and Daybell then clinched their place in the semi-finals with a 3-1 win over Davis.

“It was very hot in the hall today,” admitted Daybell, “so it was quite draining and it was one of those days when you just have to get your head down and try and grind out the results. Losing 3-2 to Russia was not a bad result and the Irish and Swedish boys are a strong team so I was glad we were able to pull through.”

“I was pleased with the doubles,” said Facey Thompson, “because they were vital today. It was a good pressure moment and I think I conquered it so I’m really happy. You just have to go for it – the game is not finished so you just have to keep playing and I’m pleased we managed to get back in the game.”

Billy Shilton action 5 2014Shilton and Westerberg started with a 3-0 win against the Russian/Korean combination yesterday and recorded another 3-0 win against the Netherlands. That assured them of a semi-final place but they needed a win in their final group match against the team from Germany and Brazil to go through as group winners. With German newcomer Jorg Schnelder beating both Shilton and Westerberg and the GB/Swedish combination winning the doubles Shilton was left with the difficult task of winning the final singles against Felipe Figueiredo Formentin. The Gloucestershire teenager showed great composure to win the match 3-0 and clinch the tie 3-2.

“I was very nervous,” admitted Shilton, “but once I got on the table and started knocking up I was OK and I just played my game. We are working really well in the doubles and tomorrow’s semi-final should be good.”

In the round-robin men’s class 6 team event Martin Perry and Costa Rica’s Domingo Arguello started with a 3-0 win yesterday against an American/Korean team. In their first match today they defeated Sweden 3-1 and they followed that with hard-fought 3-2 victory over Greece. They can take gold tomorrow if they beat Germany.

Welshman Tom Matthews and his American partner Sebastian Defrancesco found the Swiss/German combination of Marcus Sieger and Sylvio Keller too good in their first men’s class 1 team match yesterday and had a tough match today against France. Matthews got them off to a great start with a win against Vincent Thomas but after Jean-Francois Ducay beat Defrancesco the French pair combined to win a tight doubles match in four sets. Ducay, the London 2012 silver medalist, had too much experience for Matthews and clinched the tie for France with a 3-0 win.

Matthews and Defrancesco play their final match in the round-robin tournament against a French/Korean team tomorrow.

Daniel Bullen and his American partner Andre Scott had a tough start in the men’s class 5 team event against Germany yesterday which resulted in a 3-0 loss. They took on the French team today and with Scott winning both his singles and combining with Bullen to win the doubles they took the tie 3-1 and progressed to a quarter-final against a team from Argentina and Italy. Although Scott won the first singles against Fabrizio Bove from Italy the combined experience of Bove and his Argentinian partner Daniel Rodriguez Ochoa proved too much and they went on to take the tie 3-1.

Nevertheless the 16 year old from St Neots can be very proud of his performance in only his second international tournament.

“I’ve played well,” he said, “although not as well as I could have and I’ve learnt a lot from the tournament. I’ve got some Grand Prix events in the UK and the National Junior League this winter so hopefully that will give me plenty of good match practice ready for next season.”

Self-funded GB players Rajan Waterman and Craig Allen are also competing in the class 10 team and started yesterday with a walkover when the French team was withdrawn. Their first match today was against a combined Argentina/France team and although Waterman won both his singles against Dario Neira and Benoit Grasset the doubles proved crucial and the GB pair lost the match 3-1 and the tie 3-2. A 3-0 loss to the Netherlands in their final match meant that they did not progress to the semi-finals.

Ross Wilson was withdrawn from the team event as a precaution due to some minor inflammation in his arm following his victory in the men’s class 8 singles final yesterday.

Wilson takes gold on international return

20141024_123924It was a golden day for the GB Para Table Tennis Team at the first Cote d’Azur International in Hyères les Palmiers with Paralympic bronze medalist Ross Wilson (men’s class 8) taking gold in his first competition since London 2012, 15 year old Megan Shackleton winning her first gold medal in the women’s class 4/5 singles and Kim Daybell taking gold in the men’s class 10 event. There was also silver for Pathway player Martin Perry (men’s class 6) and bronze for Ashley Facey Thompson (men’s class 9).

Ross Wilson action 6 2014Sheffield based Wilson, from Minster in Kent, has endured a frustrating two years since winning a bronze medal in the team event in London having been unable to play due to a shoulder problem. The 19 year old, who was ranked number two in the world before his injury, reached the final with a 3-0 win against the Brazilian Luis Filipe Guarnieri Manara and then belied his lack of match play to beat the experienced Fabian Rignell of Sweden in three close sets in the final to take the gold.

“Being in the semi-final was a confidence booster,” said Wilson, “and I’m really happy to have got the gold. The final was a tough match and he is a good player but I was playing well and when it came to the big points I was a bit safer and smarter. Coming to a tournament and experiencing all the pressure again has been great for me and I can take that with confidence to the next tournament I play and hopefully carry on doing well. I think I used my time wisely while I was out injured – it was so frustrating knowing I couldn’t play so I used that frustration to work on other parts of my game – my physical strength and the mental side of things – and that has helped my game. It’s made me faster on the table and a bit smarter on the close points.”

Megan Shackleton April 2014 3Shackleton, from Todmorden, is the youngest member of the GB Performance Squad and she showed a maturity beyond her years to win her first international gold medal, recovering from the disappointment of losing a match point in the fourth set to defeat the Russian Aleksandra Vasileva in the final 3-2, having earlier shown all her fighting qualities to beat the Norwegian Sabine Solveig Femtehjel in the semi-final 11-7 in the fifth.

“I didn’t feel a lot of pressure,” said Shackleton, “because I had already exceeded what I had done at the last tournament. I just wanted to play my best and that is what I did. I think the semi-final being so close helped me in the final because I battled through it and that gave me confidence, knowing I’ve got the determination to fight back even when it is very close. When I blew the match point in the fourth set I was still determined that I could do it and although I wanted to get it finished quicker than I did I’m happy I finished on a high and not having lost. It’s amazing to get my first gold and it means a lot to me with all the training that I do.”

Kim Daybell Nat Champs 2014Leeds University medical student Daybell has looked in a different class at this tournament, continuing the impressive form he showed at the World Championships in China last month. He beat the Russian Pavel Lukyanov 3-0 in his semi-final and then defeated the Frenchman Karim Boumedouha 3-0 in the final to take the gold.

“I thought I played really well throughout the whole competition,” said Daybell. “I didn’t really drop my level which is an improvement for me as normally I do have ups and downs so I was pleased with that. I’m playing a lot more positively – I feel that I’m competing with the best players and I feel that I am one of the best players as I’ve got the wins under my belt now. When you are playing with confidence as any sportsman knows it makes a massive difference – you can go for your shots a bit more and be a bit more sure of yourself.”

Martin Perry actionPerry, 20, showed great determination in his semi-final against Roger Ljunggren of Sweden, winning a titanic battle for the second set 18-16 to level the match at 1-1 and taking the next two sets to reach his first international singles final. His opponent, Thomasz Kusiak from Germany, had beaten him in the group stages yesterday and once again had just too much experience for the Paisley player in a 3-1 win.

“I wasn’t thinking about yesterday’s loss to Thomasz,” said Perry, “as I’ve played really well since then. I was in a good rhythm especially after winning the semi and I started off well but Thomasz played really well. I thought it was a good game – I could possibly have done a bit better but I felt comfortable and I think I had the right balance of nerves and confidence. It’s great to get to the final and get a silver medal but it’s still heart-breaking when you don’t get the gold. I’ve taken some good wins here and getting to the final is fantastic so it’s looking positive. I’m playing well and training hard and everything is looking good for the future.”

Ashley Facey Thompson action 5 2014Sheffield based Londoner Facey Thompson, 19, lost his semi final to the world number seven Laurens Devos 3-0 but although he made too many mistakes against the very talented young Belgian, who went on to take the gold, he can be proud of a bronze medal after some great wins yesterday.

“He’s a good player and he’s very smart as well,” said Facey Thompson. “It was difficult to get my game going today and my mistakes let me down but he played well so credit to him. When I came here I thought it would be difficult to come back with a medal so although I’m disappointed not to get to the final I’m happy to get a bronze.”

All the GB players are competing in the team event that starts today and concludes on Sunday.

GB assured of singles medals in France

The GB Para table tennis team is assured of at least five medals in the singles events at the first Cote d’Azur International in Hyères les Palmiers after Megan Shackleton (women’s class 4-5), Ross Wilson (men’s class 8), Ashley Facey Thompson (men’s class 9), Kim Daybell (men’s class 10), and Pathway player Martin Perry (men’s class 6) all reached tomorrow’s semi-finals.

Ross Wilson France 2014Wilson, competing in his first international competition since London 2012, got off to a perfect start with a 3-0 win over Alejandro Perez from Argentina. He followed up with an emphatic 3-0 win over the Norwegian Fredrik Johansen to top his group and move into the quarter-finals where he defeated the German Johanes Urban in three sets.

“It is really good to be back,” said Wilson. “It’s been hard not competing for so long but getting back into it brings back all the feelings of previous competitions and memories of London 2012. I really enjoyed it and getting straight into the semi-finals in my first tournament is a confidence booster.”

Ashley Facey Thompson action 2 2014 (2)Facey Thompson enjoyed the best win of his career in beating the men’s class 9 world number three from Russia Iurii Nozdrunov 3-2. The 19 year old Sheffield based Londoner held his nerve when Nozdrunov levelled and 2-2 and finally clinched a well-deserved victory 12-10 in the fifth. A 3-0 win in his second group match against Max Van Amerongen from the Netherlands secured his place in the quarter finals where he faced another Dutchman Ronald Vliverberg. Once again Facey Thompson showed great courage and resolution to fight back from 1-2 down and take the match 11-8 in the fifth.

“I believe in myself more now,” said Facey Thompson. “I’ve been training hard and my game is better. I’m going on to the court relaxed and doing my best and the outcome is I’m winning matches and I’m really happy and enjoying it.”

Daybell continued his great form from last month’s World Championships in beating Irishman Thomas Davis 3-0 followed by Vladimir Glazov from Russia 3-0 and clinched his place in the semi-finals as group winner with a 3-0 win over Benoit Grasset from France.

“I feel it was a good performance overall,” said Daybell, “nothing special but I think I just did the basics right and it was enough to see me through.”

Megan Shackleton April 2014 1Shackleton began with a 3-0 win over Delphine Mavouza from France and ensured that she would top her group and progress to the semi-finals by beating the class 5 player from the Netherlands Yvette Moerdijk. The 15 year old was delighted with her day’s work.

“I’m really pleased because I was so nervous to start with,” she admitted. “I think I finally settled down into my game and put into practice what I’ve been doing in training so I’m happy. Now I’ve got a medal I feel that I’ve lifted the pressure off myself a bit so I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s semi-final.”

Paisley’s Martin Perry had chances in all four sets against the German Thomasz Kusiak in losing his first match 1-3 but was a 3-1 winner over George Mouchthis from Greece and then progressed to the quarter-finals with a 3-1 win over Domingo Arguello from Costa Rica. In the quarter-finals he showed great determination to beat Sun Gil Kim from Korea 11-6 in the fifth, taking a 2-0 lead and fighting back when the Korean levelled the match at 2-2.

Billy Shilton action 5 2014Gloucestershire teenager Billy Shilton also topped his group with 3-0 wins over Auden Magnus Hjelseng from Norway, Hans Speek from the Netherlands and Teak Kon Kim from Korea and a walkover in the last 16 earned him a quarter-final against the double Paralympic champion Jochem Wollmert. Unsurprisingly the German’s experience proved too much for the 16 year old but he is improving all the time and a great prospect for the future.

Daniel Bullen won his first match in three close sets against the higher ranked Frenchman Philippe Durieux and followed that with a good 3-0 win against Jang Sub Choi from Korea. A walkover in his final match left him top of his group and took him into a quarter final against Fabrizio Bove and the Italian proved too strong in a 3-0 win.

Welshman Tom Matthews was disappointed not to progress from a tough group in men’s class 1. In his first match he was involved in a great battle with the experienced Marcus Sieger from Germany and went down fighting 7-11 in the fifth. He then played really well against the Paralympic silver medalist and world number three Jean-Francois Ducay, taking the third set and pushing the Frenchman all the way in the fourth in a 1-3 loss. Matthews finished on a high note with a 3-0 win against Cyril Hernandez from France and can now look forward to the team competition.

Self-funded athletes Rajan Waterman and Craig Allen were also competing here for GB; Waterman had a good win in his group against the Brazilian Claudio Massad 3-1 and  Allen defeated Brage Aesoy Titlestad of Norway.

Young guns look for gold in French Riviera

London 2012 Paralympians Kim Daybell (class 10) and Ross Wilson (class 8) are among a team of ten young players who will be representing GB in the Cote d’Azure 2014 International Para table tennis tournament in Hyères les Palmiers next week (October 23-26).

Kim Daybell 6 Daybell, 22, a Leeds University medical student from Sheffield, impressed at the World Championships in China last month and will be looking to build on that performance in France.

“I feel the World Championships was a big stepping stone for me,” said Daybell. “By making the quarter finals and only losing to the world number one and two I proved to myself that I can compete with the best players in the world and it has given me belief that I can go on and achieve in Rio in two years’ time. Since the Worlds I have been training hard to compete well in France and although it has been difficult as I have resumed my studies I think I have now reached a stage where I can manage study and training in a productive way.”

Ross Wilson action 5 2014Sheffield based Wilson, from Minster in Kent, will be competing internationally for the first time since winning a bronze medal in the team event at the London 2012 Paralympic Games and the 19 year old is understandably happy to be back in action after two years on the side-lines due to a shoulder injury.

“Although I haven’t been able to train full time I’ve still been putting in a lot of work in the gym and on the technical aspects of my game,” said Wilson, “and that has improved me a lot as a player even though I wasn’t able to play. It’s been quite hard mentally getting back into full time training but I’ve put in a lot of hours in the training hall and I’ve played a couple of national able bodied competitions so I’m looking forward to getting out there. I’m ready for it and I’ll enjoy it.”

Also competing in France will be two more members of the GB Performance Squad – 19 year old Sheffield based Londoner Ashley Facey-Thompson (class 9) and Megan Shackleton, 15, from Todmorden (class 4) – together with GB Pathway squad members Daniel Bullen, 16, from St Neots (class 5), Tom Matthews, 22, from Aberdare (class 1), Martin Perry, 20, from Paisley (class 6) and Billy Shilton, 16, from Stonehouse in Gloucestershire (class 7). The team is completed by two self-funded players – Craig Allen from Birmingham (class 9) and Rajan Waterhouse from Bristol (class 10).

Posted in GB

World Championships Beijing Blog #12

Saturday, September 13: It’s day six of the World Championships and a leisurely start for most as we only have Will and Paul in action today and their semi-final against Ukraine does not start until 12.00. At 11.45 the warm-up hall is almost deserted as the players for the 12.00 matches are all in the call area. Will and Paul were due to be on table 5 but the 10.00 women’s match between Russia and the Ukraine is still in progress so they have been moved to table 7 and at 12.00 they enter the competition hall. All the team are here to support them and we know they have a mountain to climb against the class 7 number one and number three in the world.

20140913_120124Paul is first up against Nikolenko and the world number one looks as if he means business racing through the first set 11-5. But Paul starts to play well in the second set and a great forehand gives him the lead at 6-5. At 7-6 after a long rally Nikolenko cannot deal with another great forehand from Paul and he moves to 8-6 and goes on to take the set 11-9.

In front of us Mykhaylo Popov is doing some stretching exercises and Will is walking up and down – they will be playing the second singles. It’s noisy in the hall as the French are singing and the Polish are blowing their horns – it’s amazing that table tennis players can concentrate when there is so much noise and it’s hard to imagine Djokovic or Nadal playing a Grand Slam final in the same atmosphere.

Nikolenko clearly has a point to prove today and he takes the third set 11-5 and despite some brave play from Paul he loses the fourth set 8-11 and Ukraine take a 1-0 lead. The reaction of Nikolenko at the end of the match shows his relief at winning the first leg and Paul pushed him all the way.

Nikolenko and Popov have a score to settle with Will having both lost to him in the singles and Will skips around the table trying to convince the Ukrainians that he is not as tired as we all know he is. The first few points are shared but then Popov, who is twice the size of Will, starts unleashing some of his powerful shots and he takes the first set 11-5. After so many tough matches this week can Will summon any more reserves of energy?

20140913_122648-1He comes out fighting at the start of the second and a loud “Cho!” when he wins the first point tells everyone that he is still up for this. As Will moves to 6-0 Popov looks over at his bench in disbelief and Will goes on to finish off the set 11-5 with a great winner. A case of ‘anything you can do…’.

Into the third set and a forehand winner from Will flies past Popov and takes him to 2-0 but Popov comes back to take the next two points. He gives a shout of frustration when an attempted forehand hits the top of the net and flies long and Will comes back to level again but at 7-7 he finds the net and Gorazd calls a time out. Will loses the next point but then pressures Popov into a series of errors and he has the third set 11-9

At 1-1 in the fourth Rob starts up a chant of “Let’s Go GB, Let’s Go!” and Will responds with some brilliant play and clenches his fist as another winner takes him to 8-5. At 9-6 a great rally ends with an error from Popov and at match point down he serves into the net and Will takes the set 11-6 and the match 3-1 to level the tie. A great effort from Will and Popov returns to his bench with a look that says: “What could I do?”

We all know that the doubles is going to be crucial. Will and Paul have come so close to beating Nikolenko and Popov on a number of occasions but it will take a massive effort and a bit of luck on our side.

At 8-7 in the first set Lady Luck appears to be supporting Ukraine as a shot from Popov hits the top of the net and just drops over: 8-8. On the next point a shot from Nikolenko does exactly the same thing and suddenly we are 8-9 and a forehand winner from Nikolenko takes the first set for Ukraine.

The next set is all Ukraine and despite some great winners from both Will and Paul we lose it 5-11. We know our boys won’t give up and they make a good start to the third set moving quickly into a 6-2 lead. Although Ukraine reduce the deficit to one point Will and Paul hold on and take the set 11-8. Another good start to the fourth gives them a 4-0 lead and they keep the advantage all the way through with some great play to take the set 11-6 and level the match at 2-2.

A brave comeback but can they finish it off and finally beat the Ukraine pair? A glance to the next-door table tells us that in the other semi-final Keli Liao has match point against Jordi Morales to level the tie for China against Spain but to be honest at the moment if you are British who cares?

20140913_125851A winner from Nikolenko takes Ukraine to 3-1 and he attempts to show that he is full of energy by bouncing on his toes as he waits to receive serve. At 4-1 down Gorazd calls a time out and although Will and Paul lose the next point they come back to 4-5 and it is now time for the Ukraine coach to call a time out. At 4-6 a brilliant rally and an amazing winner from Will has us all on our feet and another cry of “Let’s Go GB!” goes out. Rob is leading the cheering for us and one of the watching Ukraine team calls out something which could have been “Let’s Go Ukraine, Let’s Go!” but unfortunately our grasp of Ukrainian is also sadly lacking.

Some confusion over who should be serving next halts the momentum and appears to distract Will and Paul and the end of the match is something of an anti-climax as Ukraine take the next five points to secure the win 3-2 and take a 2-1 lead in the semi-final.

It’s a disappointing end to what was a great match and we all know that the mountain has just become Everest. Will now has to beat Nikolenko to keep the tie alive – after the disappointment of the doubles does he have any reserves of energy left?

20140913_133144At 2-5 in the first set we fear that this is going to be one match too many for Will but some great defence and clever play gets him back level at 9-9. An error from Nikolenko gives Will a set point at 11-10 but Nikolenko saves it and goes on to take the set 14-12. The effort appears to have drained Will and Nikolenko takes the second 11-6 but Will is a fighter as well as a champion and at 10-6 he has four points to win the third. Nikolenko recovers the deficit and has match points at 12-11 and then 13-12 but Will is fighting for his life and a great rally gives him another set point at 15-14 which he converts when Nikolenko fires his shot into the net.

Somehow Will is still in the match and when he takes an 8-4 lead in the fourth we dare to hope that he can complete another remarkable comeback. But he is clearly running on pure adrenalin now and after a tired shot at 7-5 he bounces on his toes a few times trying to tell himself he can still do this. At 8-8 Gorazd calls a time out but it is the last throw of the dice and Nikolenko takes the next three points and the match.

Will has given everything but it was in the end one match too far. So our World Championships are over but the boys have done us proud and have a well-deserved bronze medal. We all troop out of the competition hall for the last time and head back to the accommodation block. Will and Paul will be back tomorrow for the medal ceremony and we will all be there to give them a cheer.

For now it is time to relax and take a trip to the famous Silk Street market in Beijing. Hopefully we can pick up some bargains but we will not find anything as valuable as the four medals our talented team have won this week.

Posted in GB

Bronze for Bayley and Karabardak in World team event

Will Bayley and Paul Karabardak have taken a bronze medal in the men’s class 6-7 team event at the 2014 ITT Para Table Tennis World Championships in Beijing after a battling performance against Ukraine which they eventually lost 1-3.

Karabardak was first to play singles against world number one Maksym Nikolenko and after losing the first set he came back to take the second and pushed the Ukrainian all the way in a 1-3 loss. Bayley then levelled the tie with a 3-1 win over the European champion Mykhaylo Popov, recovering from the loss of the first set to take the next three 5, 9 and 6.

20140913_131141The doubles was always going to be crucial and Ukraine made the better start – taking the first two sets and seeming to be in control. However, the GB pair came back fighting and took the next two to level the match but despite some great play in the fifth they could not quite sustain their effort and Ukraine took the match 3-2 and a 2-1 lead in the tie.

It was then up to Bayley to keep British hopes alive by beating Nikolenko in a repeat of the singles final earlier in the week. After so many tough matches Bayley was clearly exhausted but fought hard all the way saving match points in the third set and when he took an 8-4 lead in the fourth it looked as if he might stage another remarkable comeback. But it was not to be as the tall Ukrainian used all his power to hit some fierce winners and took the set 11-8 and the match 3-1.

“Popov is world number three and a real quality player,” said Bayley, “he medalled in the singles in 2012 and here so it was good to get that win. To take them to the fifth in the doubles was a great effort and a great comeback – in the fifth set it didn’t quite work out for us but I’m sure one day we will beat them in doubles. We’re not far away.

wbayleybio“It was nearly impossible to then come back and play Nikolenko. It was a real body blow to lose the doubles. Me and Paul both knew that the doubles was absolutely key – if we’ve any chance to win that match we’ve got to win the doubles and it’s very difficult to play another match when you’ve just lost the most crucial match of all. I tried to pick myself up. I didn’t start very well but it could have gone either way – it was very tight and at 8-4 up in the fourth I should finish that set off and then in the fifth I’d have fancied myself to win it but that’s table tennis and we’re proud of the effort we put in – we never gave up.

“I’m not going to complain – I’m world champion and I’m really proud to get a second medal in the team because I’m delighted for Paul. I’ve said all along that I really wanted to get a medal here with Paul in a World championship – it’s an amazing achievement and I still think we can improve as a doubles pair which I hope we’re going to work on in future.”

“I thought I played well against Nikolenko,” said Karabardak, “and I did myself better justice than when I played him in the singles as I didn’t really have a chance against him when I played him then. But to push him all the way and to make him work for the win was really good.

“I think it would have been hard to get silver or gold here – I think bronze was realistic although we could have done a bit better but I’m really pleased as this is my first World championship medal and it’s really special because I’ve won almost everything apart from a World medal and a Paralympic medal so just one more to go now and I’ve got the whole set.”

GB Performance Director was delighted with his team’s performance in Beijing. “I think these World Championships have been great for us – we were without Ross Wilson and Paul Davies here which would have made us stronger but the programme is not depending on one or two players – we have a lot of players in different classes who are medalling now. We have four medals – one gold, two silvers and a bronze. After London I said I wanted to change the colour of the medals in Rio and we have done it even quicker in the World championships and I will always say it is more difficult to take a medal in the World championships than the Paralympics because you have more players here. Also we have other players who didn’t medal but put up a great performance and have competed against the top players in the world who will be in Rio and I think with more training they could also be world class.”