Vecko looks to Tokyo after successful European Championships for British team

One year after winning two gold medals at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games the British Para Table Tennis Team has enjoyed its most successful European Championships in the modern era with seven medals in the singles events and three team medals including gold in men’s class 6. Paralympic champion Rob Davies won his third consecutive European singles title and led a historic one, two, three for Britain in men’s class one – the first time that Britain has won all three medals in one class.

“I am very happy that we had 10 medals and seven in singles,” said British team Performance Director, Gorazd Vecko, “which is showing that we are going in the right direction towards Tokyo. It was a tough championship and a long seven days of competition and I am very proud of all the players. For Kim Daybell in his 13th time in a major quarter-final to finally get a medal and for he and our class 9 player Ashley Facey Thompson to take silver in men’s class 10 was one of the big points for us and to take all three medals in men’s class 1 was definitely the highlight.

Gorazd Vecko interview Euros 2017“Our men’s class 6 team became European champions and beat the World silver medallists Croatia who they lost to in the semi-finals in the World Championships and we had a lot of good results in the singles events as well. The performance of our young players like Tom Matthews, Martin Perry, Billy Shilton and Megan Shackleton shows the strength of our development programme since London 2012 – they have all come through the Pathway programme and are now part of the Performance Squad, competing in major championships and winning medals.

“All the players showed great character – they were really engaged, believing in themselves and fighting for every point. None of the players disappointed me. Winning and losing is part of sport but they all tried their best. We had close matches like the men’s class 6 final and it is always good to win these matches. In the team event the players on the bench were really supporting the team which shows we have the right culture in place and it is not about who will play, it is about how to make the team win, so I was really proud of everyone.

“In March next year we start the qualification period for Tokyo and hopefully we can continue to progress and have the chance to win medals in 2020. I always say that you need to qualify first then everything is possible.”

Davies retains European crown as British team takes seven singles medals

Paralympic champion Rob Davies retained his men’s class one singles title at the European Para Table Tennis Championships in Slovenia today but Will Bayley had to settle for bronze in his bid to add the European crown to his World and Paralympic titles.

Davies led a historic British clean sweep of the medals in men’s class one with Tom Matthews taking silver and Paul Davies bronze. David Wetherill took silver in men’s class 6 and there were bronze medals for Sue Gilroy in women’s class 4-5 and Ross Wilson in men’s class 8.

Full report
DAVIS Rob and MATTHEWS Thomas 0908In the semi-final Rob Davies had to take on his great friend and fellow Welshman Paul Davies in what was a repeat of their final in the European Championships in 2013. It went to a deciding set and the 33 year old from Brecon proved just too strong for the 50 year old from North Cornelly in taking the match 11-5 in the fifth. He then had to take on another fellow Welshman in Matthews in the final and used all his experience to close out the match 11-9 in the third to secure his third consecutive European title.

“It feels pretty amazing,” said Davies. “It was a very emotional semi-final playing Paul. To say he has been through a hell of lot in the last 12 months is an understatement and for him to come back and perform like that shows what he is made of and the character of him.  For Tom as well to win the semi-final shows how much GB Para table tennis is coming on and the young players are improving all the time. The World title next year would be nice. That is definitely my aim – I didn’t think I would be in the finals here to be honest but I’ve done it, dug deep and battled through every match and got there. That gives me a lot of confidence. I’ll be better prepared next year, lose some weight and get back in the gym and hopefully I’ll be in better shape again for the Worlds next year.”

Matthews faced Federico Falco, the Italian who had taken Rob Davies to five sets in the group stages, in his semi-final and showed great character and fight to come back from 2-1 down to take the final two sets 11-8. The 25 year old from Aberdare was not quite able to reproduce that form in the final but having taken bronze two years ago was happy to take the silver this time.

“Rob is a true champion and a great guy,” said Matthews. “I’m happy for Rob, happy for myself and happy for the team. We have had a one, two, three and made history so I can’t really complain. To be honest I was really nervous going in to the fifth set against Falco and Neil (coach) really calmed me down and said ‘fight for it – you want it’. So I put everything in to it and came out on top. I’ve got to give Rob a bit more of a challenge next time; I didn’t play my best in the final but he deserves it and bring on the next Europeans.”

London 2012 bronze medallist Paul Davies was also delighted to be back in the medals at a major championship.

DAVIES Paul 0747“It was a really good game,” he said. “I’ve got to give the guy (Rob) credit, he is a talented player and I’m the master who taught him! He deserved to win but I think I pushed him to get that win today. We got the one, two, three and that has never happened before so happy days. A lot of people questioned if I would come back after last year and of course I wanted to come back. To perform here like I have done – I never thought I could do that – so it would be silly to stop now. I’m not finished yet – no way.”

Wetherill once again showed all his battling qualities with a 3-2 win in the quarter-final against the World team gold medallist Alberto Seoane Alcazar from Spain and reached the final of men’s class 6 with a four set win against the Romanian Bobi Simion, who was a surprise winner against the Paralympic and defending European champion Peter Rosenmeier. The final against the World number one Alvaro Valera proved to be one match too many for the 27 year old from Torpoint and although he kept fighting and took the third set the Spaniard took the match 11-5 in the fourth.

WETHERILL David Paul 0559“Even in the set I won I didn’t feel comfortable,” said Wetherill, “and he made it really difficult for me today. I wanted to make it difficult for him and I didn’t really do that to be honest. I just had nothing left in the tank. I tried my best but in hindsight I should have taken my chances a bit more in the previous rounds as I made it more difficult for myself than it could have been. At the end of the day I got the wins but sometimes over the course of a tournament you have your ups and downs and you need to conserve your body a little bit. It was disappointing not to go into the final feeling fresh because I would have been a lot more confident than I was but take nothing away from Alvaro – he did the business.”

After a 3-0 win against the Frenchman Kevin Dourbecker, Bayley faced Mykhaylo Popov in his semi-final in a repeat of the European Championship final in 2013 that the Ukrainian won. The 29 year old from Tunbridge Wells started slowly and although he fought back from 2-0 down to level at 2-2 he could not close out the match against an in-form Popov.

BAYLEY William John 017“He is number three in the World and he has been European champion before so he is a great player,” said a disappointed Bayley. “But that is sport and that is table tennis and anything can happen on the day. He got on top of me and deserved to win today for sure. I knew when I was 2-0 down it would be a mountain to climb but I started to climb it and come back but I just couldn’t get to the top. I gave it everything and it was close in the end. I reached the final in every major from 2011 to 2016 and although the bronze is not what I wanted, to get another major medal makes me proud. I need to look forward now towards the World championships and try and improve again.”

Wilson was European silver medallist in 2011 at the age of 16 and despite a series of injuries which have hampered his career since London 2012 has won team bronze medals in London and Rio. After edging a close first set against the World, Paralympic and European team gold medallist from Poland, Piotr Grudzien, 12-10 the 22 year old from Minster showed his class to secure a 3-0 win. His reward was a semi-final against the World champion and World number one Viktor Didukh and he pushed the Ukrainian all the way, coming back from 2-1 down to force a decider which Didukh won 11-7.

Ross Wilson action 1“I’m happy with how I played,” said Wilson, “but I wish I could have reversed the result and got a 3-2 win. So it is really hard at the moment but I am sure that when I get back to training it will be something to spur me on to do better in the World Championships next year and eventually Tokyo. I think last year I wasn’t really pushing the top guys very much – I was always a level down and now I have really upped my level and my game again and I think I am competing with the top three guys in the world now. I just want to keep improving next time and come back even stronger.”

Gilroy came through her quarter-final against Zorica Popadic 3-0 to face another Serbian Borislava Peric-Rankovic.  The Paralympic champion and World number one has so often been her nemesis in the past and so it proved again today with Gilroy unable to produce her best form in a 3-0 loss.

GILROY Susan 362“I’m really disappointed with how I played against Peric,” said the 44 year old from Barnsley. “Normally I give her a really good game and unfortunately I didn’t do that today. I’ve been out for the last three months after having surgery on my arm and I’ve only been back playing for six weeks so I didn’t expect to get a medal and it is brilliant to get a bronze. Fingers crossed I can turn it round in the team event and play the standard I know I can play.”

Gilroy will be partnered in the team event by Megan Shackleton who also faced Peric-Rankovic in her quarter-final.  She took the first set before the Serbian showed her experience in taking the next three but it was a promising performance by the 18 year old from Todmorden.

“I’m really proud of how I competed today,” said Shackleton. “It was obviously going to be a tough draw in the quarter finals against the Paralympic champion but I am showing I can compete and that gives me great confidence going into future matches. I’m gaining more experience every time but one thing that is going to be crucial for me is sticking to the same mind-set throughout a match – so that whether I’m up or down in sets I can keep the same approach in the games – and that will be the big change for me. I’m really looking forward to the team event – we have both had a good singles competition and that shows promise for the team event here.”

After some impressive performances over the first two days Kim Daybell could not quite find his best form in his men’s class 10 quarter-final against the European bronze medallist in 2015 Filip Radovic. The 17 year old from Montenegro was quick out of the blocks and took the first set 11-1 before Daybell levelled at 1-1. The third set was crucial and Radovic edged it 12-10 and went on to take the fourth 11-8 and the match 3-1.

Kim Daybell action 1Daybell has been focusing on his medical studies since Rio and was competing in only his second international tournament since the 2016 Paralympic Games but was still disappointed to go out at the quarter-final stage.

“It was tough,” said the 25 year old from Sheffield. “He came out flying and I felt under pressure for the whole game and I never really settled. I think the match hinged on the third set – whoever went 2-1 up there was probably going to take it. But it was close all the way and he played a really good game today. I always play well in majors and I’ve reached quarter finals before but it is a shame that today it wasn’t quite the result I wanted. I’m looking forward to the team event now with Ash (Facey Thompson). There are lots of strong teams and it will be tough but we will do our best and see what we can do.”

Facey Thompson put up a good performance against the men’s class 9 Paralympic champion and World number one Laurens Devos, losing in three close sets to the 17 year old Belgian.

“The set scores were really tight,” said Facey Thompson. “I was believing in myself the whole way – it was 5-5 6-6 and I didn’t let it slip. I felt that I was competing with the best player in the world at the moment in my class and I did well to make him a bit nervous.  I kept fighting but there were just a few points that let me down – the quality and the placement of the balls. Kim is playing really well and I’m looking forward to playing with my team partner again. I am in full time training now so I might have more to give to the team but we will give it our all.”

Liverpool’s Jack Hunter-Spivey led the men’s class 5 World number two Ali Ozturk 2-1 in their quarter-final but the fourth set proved crucial and after edging that 11-9 the Turkish player ran away with the fifth set to clinch the match 3-2.

“I’ve had a good tournament and applied what I was doing in training,” said Hunter-Spivey, “but I’m very disappointed as I feel I could have won that match and a medal was mine at some point. That’s just the way it goes. I played a good level of table tennis but he is World number two and he was better than me on the day. I’m up there but I want to be winning – as an athlete you always criticise yourself and at the moment I’m just really disappointed that I lost but when I look back I’ll probably feel it was a good performance.”

The Championships continue with the team events that start tomorrow and conclude on Wednesday.

Two team medals for Britain in Czech Open

There were two medals for the squad of young British Pathway and Development athletes in the team events on the final day at the PTT Czech Open in Ostrava, with teenagers Jack Stockdale and Shae Thakker taking bronze in the men’s class 9-10 team and 22 year old Lucie Bouron picking up bronze in the women’s class 1-5 team with her Chilean partner Tamara Leonelli Leonelli.

Lucie Bouron Nat Champs 2017Bouron and Leonelli Leonelli came through their group with 2-0 wins against combined teams from Argentina/Netherlands and Israel/Greece. That set up a semi-final against the class 3 World number four Andela Muzinic and World number 10 Helena Dretar and the Croatian pair proved too experienced for the young British/Chilean combination, winning the doubles 3-0 before Muzinic clinched their place in the final with a 3-0 win against Leonelli Leonelli.

“I’m feeling pleased with this tournament,” said Bouron. “I feel that I’ve played some good table tennis here and that has been shown by my medal in the team event. There are definitely some positives coming through in my matches and some areas to take home and work on.”

Stockdale, 17, from Romford and 14 year old Thakker from Slough lost their opening group match to Czech Republic but progressed to the semi-finals after a 2-0 win against Craig Allen and his Hungarian partner Barnabas Retter, with Stockdale defeating Retter 3-0 in the first singles to clinch the tie.

The young British pair were no match for Poland in their semi-finJack Stockdale v Misztal (POL) Czech Openal, losing the doubles to the more experienced Pawel Konstantyn and Pawel Jablonski before Stockdale was beaten by Igor Misztal in the first singles.

“Being able to play in my first senior tournament was a great opportunity for me,” said Stockdale. “Even though I didn’t play my best I came away with a lot of things to work on. Overall it was a good learning curve for me and I was very happy to win a medal in the team event with Shae.”

“This tournament has been extremely challenging for me,” said Thakker. “I haven’t been at my best but it has shown me the areas that I need to work on and start to develop. I will learn from the experience and reflect on it in order to improve. I’m very happy to win a medal in the team event with Jack.”

Dan Bullen and Philippe Durieux from France lost their four matches in the round-robin men’s class 5 event while in men’s class 6-7 Conor McAdam and Assaf Gofer from Israel went out after losses to Croatia, Slovakia and Japan, and Ryan Henry and Alex Bland also went out of men’s class 8 at the group stage after losses to Poland and a combined team from Hungary and Thailand.

GB assured of two team medals tomorrow in Ostrava

With the team events in the Czech Open to be decided tomorrow Lucie Bouron and her Chilean partner Tamara Leonelli (women’s class 1-5) and Jack Stockdale and Shae Thakker (men’s class 9-10) are assured of at least a bronze medal after progressing to the semi-finals of their respective events.

Bouron and Leonelli lost to top seeds Croatia but went through after 2-0 wins against Argentina/Netherlands and Israel/Greece, while Stockdale and Thakker progressed after a 2-0 win against Craig Allen and his Hungarian partner Barnabas Retter.

Dan Bullen and Philippe Durieux from France lost their three matches today in men’s class 5 and play their final match in the round robin event tomorrow. In men’s class 6-7 Conor McAdam and Assaf Gofer from Israel are out after losses to Croatia, Slovakia and Japan, and Ryan Henry and Alex Bland also went out of men’s class 8 at the group stage after losses to Poland and a combined team from Hungary and Thailand.

Martin Perry – Playing my part Video

Please find link below to a video from Sport Scotland for one of our Performance Squad athletes Martin Perry class 6.

Martin is based at Drumchapel Table Tennis Club in Glasgow and has embraced table tennis since he started playing – He’s worked very hard to move up the ranks both nationally and internationally.

Martin Perry

Martin is the current Class 6 British Champion and joined the main GB Performance squad early in 2017, he’s still making great progress internationally currently ranked 20 and moving steadily higher.

https://sportfirst.sportscotland.org.uk/articles/playing-my-part-martin-perry

 

 

Baker joins legends on UK Sport Coaching Fellowship

Greg Baker 2014The British Para Table Tennis Team’s head coach Greg Baker has joined legendary coaches Sir David Brailsford, Jurgen Grobler, Baroness Sue Campbell and Malcolm Arnold OBE in becoming an honorary member of UK Sport’s Coaching Fellowship, which aims to champion the coaching profession and support the development of world class coaches in the UK.

Baker is one of nine coaches from a range of sports to have graduated this year from UK Sport’s Elite Coaching Programme and at the age of 31 is the youngest to receive a Fellowship.

Chris Stott, Elite Programme Coordinator at UK Sport, said: “Greg was selected by the Fellows themselves to join them as a result of his sustained coaching success on the world stage, his commitment and growth to self-development through the Elite Programme and for his passion for coaching. Greg’s commitment to the Elite Programme saw him develop both as a coach and personally, contributing to the fantastic results of his athletes and inspiring the nation.”

Born and raised in Birmingham but now based in Sheffield where the British Para Table Tennis Team trains at the English Institute of Sport, Baker started playing table tennis at the age of eight and lived at the National England Academy as a junior. He represented England from the age of 12-20, played in five European Youth Championships and was ranked England number 1 in U12, U15 and U18 age groups. In 2001 he took up coaching and joined the GB Para Table Tennis Team in 2006. After winning four medals in London 2012, the team won 11 medals at the European Para Championships in 2015 and three medals in the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games – including individual golds for Will Bayley and Rob Davies.

Having been selected for the Elite Coaching Programme, Baker took part in a rigorous three year course of personal and professional development from 2014-17, both as part of a group and individually, with unparalleled access to expertise, technology and experiences from within and outside the sports industry.

Rob Davies with coach Greg Baker after winning final“The Elite Programme has been a great experience,” he said, “and has taught me a lot about leadership and how to manage a team of people as well as providing valuable advice on coaching. I really enjoy working with Para athletes because of the range of disabilities involved and the challenge that presents. To take a group of athletes from Beijing in 2008 where we didn’t win any medals to winning three medals in Rio, including beating China in the team event after they beat us comfortably eight years ago, has been very rewarding and I’m very proud of what we have achieved as a team.

“I am absolutely delighted and privileged to be offered a place on UK Sport’s Coaching Fellowship. I am extremely passionate about coaching and what it can do to change people’s lives and the impact it has on elite performance. Great Britain has an excellent and ever developing coaching workforce and I believe the Fellowship can help to bring those coaches together to share knowledge, best practice and experiences to create an even stronger British coaching system. I look forward to continuing to develop my own coaching experience and helping in any way I can to improve the direction and shape of coaching in the UK.”

Gorazd Vecko, Performance Director for the British Para Table Tennis Team, said: “Greg’s commitment and dedication to Para table tennis has been a significant factor in the success of the team over the past five years. He is always looking to improve and he fully deserves the recognition from UK Sport and the Fellowship. His enthusiasm and energy are a great example to any coach and an inspiration to the athletes in our squad.”

Information for Members of British Para Table Tennis

BPTT_logo2017_col_AW

 

 

 

 

Information for Members of British Para Table Tennis (BPTT)

I wanted you all to be the first within our sport to know about the next changes the Board has agreed to going forward. We had tremendous coverage on Channel 4 at the Rio Paralympics and our players gave outstanding performances along with the coaches and support staff. Since returning from Rio our athletes took part in Manchester, London and Welsh Parades, others visited Buckingham Palace, appeared on numerous TV programmes and community engagements, followed by Will Bayley and Rob Davies both receiving the MBE thus raising the profile of Table Tennis Paralympians.

I feel we are at present we are in a good place We have now approved the new BPTT logo and it will appear on the new team kit in September 2017. It is attached with information on how it is to be used.

BPTT Logo Guidelines

We have nearly completed the arrangements for the production of a new web site and new email addresses for staff working on the World Class Performance Programme will also follow shortly. Alongside this agreements are all now in place for Tokyo 2020 with the Elite Squad now in training. Watch this space……

Yours in sport

Karen Tonge MBE

Chairman

British Para Table Tennis

BTTAD Ltd

National Lottery funded athletes and parkrun team up to inspire the nation to get active

On Saturday 19 August, The National Lottery, UK Sport and parkrun UK are inviting the nation to join Britain’s top athletes at #teamparkrun events across the UK.

To celebrate the public’s support of elite and community sport through playing The National Lottery, the nation’s sporting heroes will take to parkrun events across the UK to volunteer and inspire the nation to get active.

#teamparkrun will also be backed by Sport England, sportscotland, Sport Wales, Sport Northern Ireland, the British Olympic Association and British Paralympic Association, as well as a host of national governing bodies, and follows on from the success of I am Team GB last year, which inspired nearly 1 million people to take part in the nation’s biggest ever sports day. I Am Team GB celebrated the success of Britain’s athletes at the Rio 2016 Games and the role the nation played through the support they give elite athletes by playing The National Lottery.

On 19 August 2017, following the IPC and IAAF World Athletics Championships, hosted in the iconic London Stadium which was the epicentre of the London 2012 Games, National Lottery-funded athletes from across various Olympic and Paralympic sports will take to parks across the UK to act as volunteer Tail Walkers, who ensure that no one ever finishes last at a parkrun event.

National Lottery players have been backing Britain’s record-breaking Olympic and Paralympic athletes for 21 years this year, and to say ‘thank you’ to all these players, athletes will be taking up the role as Tail Walkers to get right behind the nation as they try parkrun for the very first time – either walking, jogging, running or volunteering themselves – with a view to starting their journey to a more healthy, active lifestyle.

Over 630 parkruns (5k) and junior parkruns (2k) take place every weekend across the UK, and are a free, sociable and highly accessible way for everyone to take their first steps towards a more active lifestyle, whether they choose to walk, jog, run or volunteer the first time they go along.

Dame Katherine Grainger, five time Olympic medallist and the newly appointed Chair of UK Sport, said: “The nation, and specially National Lottery players, have been backing us as athletes for 21 years now and none of us would be where we are today without their support.

“While sport and activity are integral to our lifestyles, we know that for some people taking up activity for the first time can be a scary prospect. parkrun offers a free, friendly and welcoming way to start, and our athletes will be there on August 19 to make any newcomers feel extra welcome.

“If you’ve been thinking about getting active, join #teamparkrun on August 19; you’ve been right behind us for so long and now your athletes will be right behind you!”

Nick Pearson, Chief Executive of parkrun, said: “One of the most common reasons that people register with parkrun but don’t go on to take part is because they don’t feel capable of running 5k. This initiative, which will see GB athletes supporting parkrunners, will reinforce the message that not only do we encourage walkers at parkrun, but that all of our events have volunteer Tail Walkers who provide support along the course.”

Arabella Gilchrist, Head of The National Lottery Brand, said: “#teamparkrun offers a brilliant way of celebrating the support the public gives British sport by playing The National Lottery.

“No one does more to contribute to elite athletes or community sports projects than our players. #teamparkrun will thank our players by connecting our Lottery-funded athletes with their local parkrun to inspire everyone, no matter what their level of fitness, to get active. We hope to see plenty of first-time parkrunners, joining their sporting heroes at their local event.”

Young British squad for Spanish Open

The British Para Table Tennis Team is taking a squad of 10 Pathway and Development players to the 2017 PTT Spanish Open Ciutat del Prat and Junior (U23) Tournament taking place in El Prat de Llobregat from June 7-11.

The full squad is:

Factor 20 Tournament:
Marc Bonnar – Class 1 (Ingleby, Middlesborough)
Lucie Bouron – Class 3 (Bracknell)
Lee Wilkinson – Class 7 (Evesham)

Factor 20 and Junior Tournaments:
Alex Bland – Class 7 (Rotherham)
Daniel Bullen – Class 5 (St Neots)
Craig Allen – Class 9 (Bromsgrove)
Conor McAdam – Class 6 (Dundonald)
Declan Tobin – Class 8 (Airdie)
Elliot Medland – Class 10 (Clydebank)

Junior Tournament:
Euan McLaughlin – Class 8 (Glasgow)

Draw made for World Team Championships

The draw has been made for the inaugural World Team Championships taking place in Slovakia from May 17-20.

World Team Champs logoThe British Para Table Tennis Team is competing in four events – men’s class 1, men’s class 6, men’s class 8 and women’s class 4-5.

Men’s class 1 and women’s class 4-5 are both round-robin events with five teams in each. Paul Davies and Tom Matthews begin at 16:00 tomorrow with a match against the hosts Slovakia while Sue Gilroy and Megan Shackleton also take on Slovakia at 14:15.

In men’s class 6, Paul Karabardak, Martin Perry and David Wetherill have been drawn in a group with European champions Denmark, Chile and Slovakia and play their first match at 14:15 tomorrow against the host nation.

In men’s class 8, Aaron McKibbin, Billy Shilton and Ross Wilson are in a group with Paralympic silver medallists Sweden, Chinese Taipei and Australia. They start with a match against Australia at 09:00 tomorrow.

All times are local – one hour ahead of the UK.

For full details of the draw go to:
http://www.so-tabletennis.com/images/data_Team_16_5_2017.pdf