Bayley dominates Draycott Para Open

Will Bayley & Dave Cochrane Draycott Para OpenParalympic champion Will Bayley dominated the Draycott Para Open today – taking the class 7 singles, combining with Martin Perry to win the open standing doubles and completing a clean sweep in his three events by defeating Perry 3-0 to win the open standing singles.

Men’s class 1 Paralympic champion Rob Davies also started his season in style by winning all his three matches in the round robin class 1-2 singles. The Welshman had to settle for runners-up spot in the open wheelchair doubles after he and Noel Thomas lost the decisive match to Dan Bullen and Lucie Bouron and after a great fight back from 0-2 to beat Bouron in the semi-finals of the open wheelchair singles Davies was defeated 3-1 by class 5 player Bullen in the final.

Perry secured victory in the round robin class 6 singles with a 3-1 win against fellow GB Pathway squad member Fliss Pickard and Bullen won the class 3-5 singles with a 3-1 win against Bouron in the final. Ryan Henry took the round robin class 8 event after winning all three of his matches and Adam Thompson took the round robin class 11 singles.

Craig Allen’s 3-2 victory over Shae Thakker proved to be the decisive result in the round robin class 9-10 singles but Thakker won the Junior standing singles, beating Alex Bland 3-0 in the final.

Players at Draycott Para OpenFinal Results
Class 1-2 Singles RR
Winner: Rob Davies
Runner-up: Oye Jemiyo

Class 3-5 Singles
Final: Daniel Bullen beat Lucie Bouron 3-1

Class 6 Singles RR
Winner: Martin Perry
Runner-up: Fliss Pickard

Class 7 Singles
Final: Will Bayley beat Alex Bland 3-0

Class 8 Singles RR
Winner: Ryan Henry
Runner-up: Nick Dibben

Class 9-10 Singles RR
Winner: Craig Allen
Runner-up: Shae Thakker

Class 11 Singles RR
Winner: Adam Thompson
Runner-up: Peter Millar

Junior Standing Singles
Final: Shae Thakker beat Alex Bland 3-0

Open Standing Doubles
Final: Will Bayley/Martin Perry beat Craig Allen/Tam Eastwood 3-0

Open Wheelchair Doubles RR
Winners: Lucie Bouron/Dan Bullen
Runners-up: Rob Davies/Noel Thomas

Open Standing Singles A
Final: Will Bayley beat Martin Perry 3-0

Open Standing Singles B
Final: Tamar Packford beat Nick Dibben 3-1

Open Standing Singles C
Final: Peter Millar beat Jaiden Caldeira 3-0

Open Wheelchair Singles A
Final: Dan Bullen beat Rob Davies 3-1

Open Wheelchair Singles B/C RR
Winner: Raul Popat
Runner-up: Paul Ledward

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Matthews and Shilton selected for Performance Squad

European medalists Tom Matthews and Billy Shilton have been named in the British Para Table Tennis Performance squad for 2017.

Tom Matthews Slovenia medalMatthews, 24, joined the British Pathway squad in 2013 and partnered Paralympic champion and fellow Welshman Rob Davies to win the men’s class 1 European team title in 2015, having also taken bronze in the singles event. After narrowly missing out on qualification for Rio 2016 he missed most of last year after breaking his leg in the spring but returned in December to take gold in the US Open, beating the Korean World number five and Rio bronze medalist KiWon Nam in the final.

Shilton, 18, also joined the Pathway squad in 2013 and made rapid progress to take bronze in the men’s class 7 singles and silver in the men’s class 7 teams at the European Championships in 2015. The Gloucestershire teenager missed out on Paralympic qualification after being reclassified as a class 8 athlete but went to Rio as part of ParalympicsGB’s Paralympic Inspiration Programme.

“Both Tom and Billy have been selected for the Performance Squad because of the potential they have shown over the last two years,” said BPTT Performance Director Gorazd Vecko.

“Tom just missed qualification for Rio and then lost eight months away from the table following an accident but before that he had beaten top 10 players in the world and was starting to beat top five players in the world. His performance in winning gold in Las Vegas in December showed that he will soon become a World top 10 athlete.  I believe that Tom will be a future medalist for GB in major championships and he is a great prospect for Tokyo 2020.

Billy Shilton Vejle 2015 3“Billy has been part of the programme now for the last four years and he has shown consistent improvement. He moved to Sheffield last year, which was the first big step for him towards joining the Performance squad, and now he has shown that he is a performance athlete and he understands what he needs to do to be a future medalist at the major competitions.  He also played really well in the US Open at the end of last year and it is looking strong for the programme that we can take players from the Pathway squad to the Performance squad and this is how it should work.”

The full BPTT Performance Squad for 2017 is:

Will Bayley MBE (class 7) – Tunbridge Wells/Sheffield
Paul Davies (class 1) – North Cornelly
Rob Davies MBE (class 1) – Brecon
Kim Daybell (class 10) – Leeds/Sheffield
Ashley Facey Thompson (class 9) – London
Sue Gilroy MBE (class 4) – Barnsley
Jack Hunter-Spivey (class 5) – Liverpool/Sheffield
Paul Karabardak (class 6) – Swansea
Tom Matthews (class 1) – Aberdare
Aaron McKibbin (class 8) – London/Sheffield
Megan Shackleton (class 4) – Todmorden
Billy Shilton (class 8) – Stonehouse/Sheffield
David Wetherill (class 6) – Torpoint
Ross Wilson (class 8) – Minster/Sheffield

Bayley and Davies receive MBE in New Year Honours List

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.

will-bayley-with-medal-on-podium“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-robert-gbr-07Davies 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!”

Posted in GB

Pathway trio finish with four medals in US Open

The British Para Table Tennis Team took two team medals at the PTT US Open in Las Vegas with Martin Perry adding silver in men’s class 6-7 to the gold he won in the men’s class 6 singles and Billy Shilton winning silver in men’s class 8.

martin-perry-france-3“I feel that I’ve played positive table tennis throughout,” said Perry, who was partnered in the team event by the Chilean Matias Pino Lorca. “It could have been very easy to get distracted out here in Las Vegas but I feel that the mental strength of the whole team has really shown as we have kept each other grounded and focused throughout. I’m over the moon with my first senior title! I put a lot of hard work in back home and in Sheffield and it’s nice to see it paying dividends on the big day. I’m incredibly happy with some of my wins out here; to have beaten the world number 11 for the second time in a row really does fill me with confidence going forward into 2017.”

Shilton combined with the Italian Samuel De Chiara to take the silver in men’s class 8, the pair winning all their group matches and their semi-final against The Netherlands 2-0 and only losing in the final to the experienced Swedish combination of former world number one Emil Andersson and Linus Karlsson.

Billy Shilton Germany 2015Shilton won the deciding singles against Norway in the group and The Netherlands and was happy to bounce back from his disappointment in the singles.

“I didn’t play great in the singles event and struggled to maintain a good level of focus,” he said. “But I had a good chat with my coach Shaun about finding ways to re-focus and I brought it into my matches in the team event. I was really pleased with how I performed during the team event and it was great to win a silver medal in my last tournament of the year. Next year my aims are to break into the top 15 in the world and qualify for the World championships.”

Tom Matthews was thrilled to win his first singles gold medal on his return from injury.

Tom Matthews Vejle 2015 2“It was tough as it was my first international back since Italy in February,” said the European team champion. “I knew my training had gone well up to the event but it was just settling my nerves and playing with confidence and consistency that got me through. I admit I was very nervous in my semi-final coming up against a player I’ve never faced before and being back in that pressure situation, and to pull through that was a good stepping stone to my final match against Nam. Going 2-0 down was always going to be difficult to fight back against a top player but I just thought to myself ‘fight for every ball and just get it on the table’ and it paid off.

“I’m over the moon to win my first international gold especially against such a great opponent. I’d just like to say a big thank you to everyone for getting me back up to match fitness after my injury and just thank you for all the support.”

Posted in GB

Matthews and Perry find gold in Vegas

Two of the British Para Table Tennis Team’s brightest young prospects have taken gold in their respective singles events at the PTT US Open in Las Vegas. Tom Matthews made a winning return from injury in men’s class 1 and Martin Perry also won his first singles gold in men’s class 6.

Tom Matthews Vejle 2015 5Matthews was playing in his first international competition since February after breaking his leg in the spring and after a walkover against the American Sebastian De Francesco he topped his group with wins against Matti Launonen from Finland (3-1) and the Korean Hakjin Kim (3-0).

A 3-1 win over the Argentinian Guillermo Bustamante Sierra took him into the final against World number five KiWon Nam and when the Korean took the first two sets he looked to be in control. But Matthews showed all his determination and fight to come back and win the next three and secure his first singles gold medal.

Martin Perry France 4Perry began with a great 3-0 win against the very experienced and top ranked Danny Bobrov from Israel and secured first place in his group with further wins against two Americans Ari Arratia (3-1) and Edward Schneider (3-0). He reached the final with a 3-1 win against the Chilean Matias Pino Lorca and also showed his fighting spirit to come from 2-1 down against the talented young American Ian Seidenfeld to take the gold.

Billy Shilton Vejle 2015 13Billy Shilton played well to win his three group matches in men’s class 8 against Gabriel Salazar Perez from Ecuador (3-1), Pablo Jacobsen from Norway (3-0) and the American Solomon Sesaye (3-0) but was disappointed to lose in the quarter-final to the Italian Samuel De Chiara.

The competition continues with the team event that concludes tomorrow.

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British team hoping to end season on a high in Vegas

The British Para table tennis team is sending three of its most promising young players to compete in the 2016 PTT US Open in Las Vegas this week (December 14-16). European team gold medalist Tom Matthews and 18 year old European bronze medalist Billy Shilton will be joined by fellow Pathway squad member Martin Perry and the three will be hoping to finish a successful season for the team on a high note.

MATTHEWS ThomasMatthews will be competing for the first time since the Italian Open in February after breaking his leg in the spring.

“Training has been going very well since returning from injury,” said the 24 year old Welshman. “I feel having the time off has matured me as a player mentally on and off the table. I feel I’m playing some of my best table tennis at the moment, getting good consistency and really enjoying being on the table. I’m looking forward to testing myself against the international players once again.”

Perry will be playing his first international competition for six months but has been preparing for the US Open by playing local league matches in Sheffield, where he is now based with the British Para table tennis squad.

Martin Perry France 2“Training has been good,” he said. “I feel that I’m playing quite well at the moment and this week will be a good opportunity to end the year on a high and try out some new things we’ve been working on that I hope are going to improve my game in the future.”

The ParalympicsGB table tennis team won two gold medals in Rio and Perry admits to being inspired by their achievements.

“Four years ago I watched these guys as strangers win medals in London,” he said, “and that made me realise I want to give this sport everything I’ve got. Now I’ve been training with the team for around two and a half years, and full time with them for a year, and these guys are friends and teammates – family almost – and to watch them win medals has been incredible. Training in the same environment and knowing I’m working towards the same goals in future has really spurred me on.”

Billy Shilton Vejle 2015 3Shilton just missed out on selection for the Paralympic Games but went to Rio as part of the Paralympic Inspiration Programme.

“I was really honoured to be selected for the programme and going to Rio was an amazing experience,” he said. “It’s really motivated me to go on now and get to Tokyo. That’s always been my long-term aim, to qualify for a Paralympics, so hopefully I can do that.”

Deborah Davies

last-leg-groupIt is with great sadness that we have learnt of the sudden death of Deborah Davies, the wife of Paul Davies – a member of the GB Para Table Tennis squad who was bronze medallist in men’s class 1 singles in the London 2012 Paralympic Games and men’s class 1 European Team Champion in 2013 with Rob Davies. Deborah accompanied Paul to all his international competitions as his carer and was a valued member of the GB team. She was in Rio with Paul and as always was a great help to all the team with her kindness, good humour and enthusiastic support of all the athletes.

GB Performance Director Gorazd Vecko and one of his predecessors Dave Hewitt have both paid tribute to Deborah as a much respected team member who contributed greatly to the overall team ethos; these sentiments have also come from our President Philip Lewis MBE and  Vice-President John Jenkins MBE as well as the British Paralympic Association and all at UK Sport. Our deep sympathy and condolences go to Paul and his family.

A funeral service for Deborah will be held at 2:30pm on Thursday, October 6th at Margam Crematorium, Longland Lane, Port Talbot SA13 2NR.
Karen Tonge MBE
Chairman
Posted in GB

The Last Leg in Rio

It’s our final day of competition in Rio and we have one last roll of the dice. After the disappointment of losing yesterday’s semi-final to Ukraine, Aaron, Ross and Will must pick themselves up and come back into the hall to fight for a bronze medal but they face the table tennis equivalent of climbing Everest as their opponents are class 8 World team champions China.

We know that the boys will give it everything but it was a tough loss yesterday and the Chinese team includes World number two and double Paralymic champion Zhao Shuai, World number four Ye Chao Qun and the former World number three Sun Churen.

The match is due to start at 12:00 but it is delayed by a great battle for the bronze in men’s class 4-5 between China (who else?) and Turkey. Finally, Ali Ozturk takes the deciding singles against Cao NingNing 3-2 and the Turkish team celebrate a famous victory. Can our boys do the same?

The athletes enter the hall for the men’s class 6-8 medal matches – Sweden and Ukraine are playing for gold and silver but the only match that really matters (if you are a GB supporter) is on table 4 – GB v China.

mc-kibbin-aaron-wilson-ross-williamYesterday Aaron and Ross gave Ukraine a 2-0 start in the doubles but they are clearly determined not to make the same mistake today and make a flying start – taking the first set 11-7 with some clever play. The second is much closer but Aaron and Ross keep their noses in front and edge it 11-9 with a great forehand from Ross which he greets with a roar and a fist pump.

Zhao and Ye are an experienced pair and do what they need to do – take the third set and then the fourth to level at 2-2 – and at 0-2 in the fifth coach Greg calls a time out. With chants of ‘GB! GB!’ ringing out around Riocentro3 Aaron and Ross return to the table and after levelling at 3-3 they pull ahead to 8-5. Time out for China and they then level at 8-8.

mc-kibbin-aaron-wilson-ross-william-5-will-greg-cheerOur hopes of the bronze hinge on winning the doubles but China take the next point to lead 9-8 before GB come back to level at 9-9 after a great rally. Zhao is bouncing on his toes like a boxer but he nets his return off a short serve to give our boys match point and thankfully they take it as Will and Greg leap to their feet in celebration.

So the first part of the climb has been safely negotiated but there is still a long way to go.

wilson-ross-william-gbr-3Ross and Aaron leave the hall for a short break and then Ross starts the first singles against Zhao. Ross has had so many injury problems since he made such an impact in London as a 17 year old but his character and determination have never been in doubt and after losing the first set he pushes Zhao all the way in the second before the Paralympic champion takes it 11-9. Back comes Ross in the third and from 4-4 he moves to 8-4 keeping the ball short and getting the error from Zhao.

The ‘Rossie Posse’ are getting into their stride and begin a chant of ‘Super, Super Ross, Super Rossie Wilson’ and Ross responds by taking the set 11-6. At 3-5 in the third Ross wins a great rally after Zhao nets but the Chinese player uses all his experience to close out the set 11-6 and take the match 3-1.

mc-kibbin-aaron-grb-3So all our hopes now rest on Aaron as he takes on Sun Churen. The two last met in the World Championships in 2014 when Sun won in four close sets so it is going to be tough but Aaron starts well, taking the first set 11-6 when his return catches the edge of the table off a wide serve by Sun. There is never more than a couple of points between the two in the second set but Sun takes it 11-9 after a great rally that ends when Aaron nets: 1-1.

Aaron recovers quickly and as he reaches 6-3 in the third the Chinese coach calls time out but it favours Aaron and he takes the set impressively 11-3: 2-1 to GB.

The fourth is another close affair but at 7-7 Aaron goes long and then nets a service return to hand the initiative to Sun and the left-hander takes the set 11-9 to level at 2-2.

After so many great matches over the past 10 days it is perhaps fitting that this one goes down to the wire as well but if you are a GB supporter it is stretching the nerves to breaking point. This has been such a great performance by the boys – can Aaron hold his nerve and bring home a third medal for GB?

He starts well and at 4-0 the ‘Rossie Possie’ are now chanting ‘Go Aaron McKibbin’. Sun blocks the ball and Aaron goes long and Sun reduces the deficit to 4-3 but Aaron keeps a slight advantage and an edge takes him to 8-5. He goes long on the next point and again on the next and with the score at 9-9 we can hardly bear to watch.

aaron-after-winning-final-point10-9 and Aaron has match point but he misses with his forehand: 10-10. Come on Aaron – you deserve this. Another match point and this time Aaron wins the rally and he drops his bat and turns to Ross, Will and Greg scarcely able to believe that he has done it.

Afterwards Aaron reveals: “I went to bed last night and said it would be great if I won 12-10 in the fifth tomorrow, so when it came to 10-10 in the fifth I thought maybe it was meant to be.”

If only we had known that we had nothing to worry about.

A delighted Martine is here from Channel 4 again to interview the boys and it is a much easier task than after yesterday’s semi-final when they had been so despondent. What a difference a day makes.

Prize giving over Aaron and Ross head off to spend time with their very proud families while Will and Rob have a date with Channel 4’s The Last Leg. They are accompanied by Jack, David, Paul Davies and Sue who are in the audience while Will and Rob are interviewed. It’s a fun end to an emotional day and a successful finish to the Paralympic table tennis for GB. The boys have conquered their Everest and can now look to Tokyo.

Sayonara.

Posted in GB

GB beat China to take team bronze in Rio

gbr-mens-team-class-6-8-bronze-8The ParalympicsGB table tennis team finished Rio 2016 on a high as Aaron McKibbin, Ross Wilson and Will Bayley took the bronze medal in men’s class 6-8 team, beating the class 8 World team champions China 2-1.

McKibbin and Wilson had pushed Zhao Shuai and Ye Chao Qun to five sets in the Slovenia Open team event in May and, having made a slow start to the doubles in their semi-final against Ukraine yesterday, they immediately took the initiative against the Chinese pair by taking the first set 11-7.

The second set was closer but a great forehand from Wilson secured the set 11-9 and GB led 2-0.

mc-kibbin-aaron-wilson-ross-william-4Zhao and Ye hit back to take the next two sets and at 0-3 in the fifth it appeared as if China now had the momentum. But McKibbin and Wilson came back to level and then moved ahead and at 8-6 down China called a time out. It worked initially as they took the next three points but GB levelled at 9-9 and then a short serve from McKibbin was netted by Zhao to set up match point. They only needed one as another short serve was netted by Ye and McKibbin and Wilson had taken the doubles 3-2 for a 1-0 lead in the match.

In the first singles Wilson faced Zhao, who earlier in the week had retained his men’s class 8 Paralympic singles title. The 21 year old was always playing catch-up in the first set which Zhao took 11-7 but matched the World number two all the way through the second, which he lost narrowly 9-11, and then took the third 11-6 with some clever play. Although Zhao took the fourth 11-6 and the match 3-1 Wilson can be proud of his effort.

That left McKibbin needing to beat Sun Churen in the deciding singles to take the bronze. The 25 year old made the perfect start, taking the first set 11-6, but the Chinese former World number three came back to edge the second 11-9. The third set was all McKibbin and a time out for Sun at 6-3 down did not prevent the GB player from taking the set 11-3.

Sun took an early lead in the fourth set and although McKibbin levelled at 7-7 the Chinese player pulled away to take the set 11-9 and level the match.

mc-kibbin-aaron-grb-2There can be no greater pressure than playing a deciding set in the deciding singles against China to win a Paralympic medal but McKibbin began positively and raced into a 4-0 lead and although Sun reduced the deficit to 4-3 McKibbin kept inching ahead and at 8-5 was within sight of a famous victory. However, Sun was not done yet and levelled at 9-9 but McKibbin set up a match point only to go long with his forehand. An error by Sun gave him another match point and this time he made no mistake to win the set 12-10, the match 3-2 and the bronze medal for GB 2-1.

“To be honest I think the fifth game was down to nerves,” said McKibbin. “I was so nervous but I could see in his face that he was praying for me to miss and at the end I thought I just need to go for this and play to win and if I lose playing to win then fair enough. He was playing for me to miss and I was going to make sure that I played to win because I believe that if I play to win I have a better chance. Thankfully it paid off and it is just phenomenal.

“We have a special belief about us and we believed we were going to do this today. It was a hard loss yesterday and we came back and we believed genuinely that we could do this if we performed to our level and we showed it out there. I’m over the moon for the boys – we won a bronze medal in London but I personally think this is a greater achievement. We have had such hard opponents all the way through and the competition is getting stronger and stronger. I’m just so thrilled for the boys that we’ve done it.”

Wilson has endured a series of injuries in the last four years and was playing in only his sixth competition since London 2012.

wilson-ross-william-gbr-2“We started quite slowly in our semi-final match,” he said, “and we really wanted to up it for this one so we really wanted to start well and from the go we went out there and just gave it absolutely everything. We had a great start but they came back and showed amazing fight and we went down in the fifth but we believed until the end. I was feeling the nerves the whole way through the last match but we believed in him (Aaron). We do that as a team – we believe in each other and I think that is what makes us get these results and I can’t believe we’ve done it.”

Bayley, who had secured the decisive singles win in the quarter-final against Spain, admitted that he would rather play than watch.

“It was agony watching,” said the 28 year old, “and I just feel drained now. They were superb – we’ve come through a lot in this tournament and had to beat some good teams. Overall the tournament has been fantastic for us and I’m proud of the boys – they held their nerve superbly.”

Posted in GB

Tomorrow is another day

Semi-finals day in the team events in Rio and our focus is the match in men’s class 6-8 team between GB and Ukraine. The ‘Rossie Posse’ has joined the rest of the GB team in the stands and there are chants of ‘GB!’ as Will, Ross and Aaron enter the hall. A band of Ukrainian supporters are sitting behind GB but we have pole position.

aaron-ross-doubles-v-ukrRoss and Aaron are playing class 8 World number one Viktor Didukh and class 7 World number two Maksym Nikolenko in the opening doubles and the Ukrainian pair are looking ominously sharp and focused. As they take a 2-0 lead for the loss of only eight points Will leaves the hall to prepare for the first singles match – or perhaps he just can’t bear to watch.

But then Ross and Aaron start to play the way we know they can and from 0-3 they take the lead at 7-6 when a great forehand from Ross draws a mistake from Didukh. The next few points are shared and at 10-9 Ukraine have match point but Nikolenko nets. Didukh then goes long and another error secures the set for Ross and Aaron 12-10 and they are back in the game.

didukh-viktor-nikolenko-maksym-ukr-wilson-ross-william-mc-kibbin-aaron-gbrThe fourth set is nip and tuck and at 6-6 Didukh nets in response to a great shot by Aaron: 7-6 to GB. But then the umpire takes the point away from our boys because of what he thought was an infringement of the rules and there follows a long discussion between the two umpires and the referee to which coach Greg listens anxiously while Didukh prowls around in circles like a caged tiger.

Finally, the matter is resolved and the point reinstated: 7-6 to GB. Didukh nets his service return and a winning forehand from Aaron takes the score to 9-6 and two points later we have a point to level the match at 2-2 which is converted when Nikolenko nets.

After appearing down and out Ross and Aaron are back on terms and meanwhile in the other semi-final Sweden have won the doubles 3-2 to take a 1-0 lead against China.

Ukraine come out swinging in the fifth and quickly move to 6-1 but Ross and Aaron are still fighting and as they reduce the deficit to 6-7 we start to hope that they can complete what had looked an improbable victory. Sadly for them it is not to be as Didukh and Nikolenko combine to take the next four points and the match 3-2.

The boys now have a mountain to climb and Will is playing Didukh in the first singles. The Ukrainian was a good able bodied player before losing a leg to cancer and having surprisingly failed to medal in the singles here is clearly a man on a mission. It is the first time they have played each other and the first set is all Didukh as he unleashes his powerful shots to great effect.

will-bayley-final-2In the second set Will starts to score with a few shots of his own and clenches his fist as he wins a great rally but Didukh is on fire now and takes the set 11-6. Will is now pushing Didukh and levels at 4-4 but the Ukrainian has the look of a prize-fighter who knows his opponent is punching above his weight and he roars in triumph as he wins the match 11-6 in the third to take Ukraine into the final.

Zhao Shuai has beaten Emil Andersson in five sets to level against Sweden and their semi-final will be decided by the second singles between Ye Chaoqun and Linus Karlsson. There are shouts of delight from the Swedish team as Karlsson beats Ye 3-1; Sweden will play Ukraine for gold and we now know that we will have to beat China tomorrow.

Will, Ross and Aaron walk despondently away and stop on the way to speak to Channel 4. Although bitterly disappointed they have a bronze medal match to focus on and one thing is certain – they will give it everything.

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