Great Britain’s para team defeated Brazil 3-1 at The Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park on Saturday (September 7) in the UK’s inaugural National Paralympic Day marking the one year anniversary of the London 2012 Paralympic Games.
London 2012 Paralympic medallists Will Bayley and Aaron McKibbin, together with fellow GB athletes Kim Daybell and Ashley Facey-Thompson, took part in the match at the Copper Box Arena alongside the Mayor of London’s Liberty festival for deaf and disabled arts and have-a-go sporting activities.
London 2012 silver medallist Will Bayley, who will defend his European title later this month, delighted the enthusiastic crowd by giving Great Britain the perfect start in beating Paulo Salmin in three straight games.
Will Bayley said: “It was special to play in front of so many fans.The atmosphere was amazing and it was especially nice for the GB team to win.”
In the second match local boy Ashley Facey-Thompson, cheered on by many of his friends and family, beat Erick Higa 3-1. The 18-year-old missed out on playing in London last year but showed great character and talent to overcome his opponent after a nervous start.
The final two games were reduced to best of three and Kim Daybell narrowly lost out to Carlos Caribinatti in a very tight match that the Brazilian took 14-12 in the third. Londoner Aaron McKibbin, team bronze medallist in London with Bayley and Ross Wilson, also had a close match with Israel Stroh but secured an overall win for GB with a 2-1 victory.
Aaron McKibbin said: “It was really good to be back playing in front of a home crowd reliving the memories of London 2012It’s great preparation for the European Championships coming up and shows the legacy of London 2012 lives on as the support from the British crowd was fantastic.”
GB Performance Director Gorazd Vecko was delighted with the win: “It was a good match with a lot of excellent points and there was a good fighting spirit. It was great experience for all the players to compete in front of a big crowd and good to have some match practice ahead of the European Championships at the end of September.”
Written by Francesca Bullock (September 9, 2013)