Paralympic champions Will Bayley and Rob Davies have each been given an MBE for services to table tennis in the New Year Honours list published today.
World champion Bayley, who was born with arthrogryphosis and survived childhood cancer, took gold in the men’s class 7 singles in Rio, four years after losing in the final in London 2012.
“I’m so delighted to be given an MBE,” said the 28 year old from Tunbridge Wells. “It is a huge honour and means so much to me. I’m proud every day to represent Great Britain and I feel privileged to have been able to represent my country in three Paralympic Games already. I’m still hungry for more medals and my long term goal is retaining my title in Tokyo 2020 where I will hopefully be at my peak.
“I would like to say thanks my coach Gorazd Vecko and to all my GB team mates and support staff; without them I would not be the player I am today. Thanks also to Gary Howes at Byng Hall – my first table tennis club – and to all my sponsors and supporters over the last 10 years who have believed in me and have made it possible for me to compete at this level. I hope to continue to repay your trust and belief in the years to come.
“I couldn’t have achieved anything without the support of my family – my mum, step-dad and my brother – the amazing team at Great Ormond Street Hospital and a dear family friend Linda Slade, who sadly passed away last year and did so much to help me.”
Davies played semi-professional rugby until a spinal cord injury while playing left him wheelchair-bound at the age of 21. Disappointed not to win a medal in London 2012 he responded by taking European gold in 2013 and becoming World number one. European champion again in 2015 he took gold in the men’s class 1 singles in Rio.
“I feel absolutely ecstatic that I’ve been named in this year’s honours list to receive an MBE,” said the 32 year old Welshman. “My face just lit up when I read the letter – I was just so overwhelmed and happy. I just couldn’t believe it! I feel so privileged and proud and would just like to thank everybody who’s been part of this amazing journey I’ve been on. I can’t wait to make 2017 special!”