GB Team – Jack Hunter-Spivey

jhspiveybio
Date and place of birth: 11/05/1995
Home town: Liverpool
Lives: Sheffield
Family: Mum Renee, step-father Rob, brother Chris, sister Romana-Dawn
TT Class: 5
Current world ranking: 7
TT Style: all-round attacking
International debut: 2011, Slovakia

 

 

Jack’s story

When London won the Olympic and Paralympic bid in 2005, 10 year old Jack was playing table tennis in a youth club in Widnes and decided that he wanted to play in the Paralympic Games in London. He was invited to his first GB Development camp at the age of 11 and has now been part of the Performance squad since 2011. Although he just missed out on selection for London, he experienced the atmosphere of the Games through the Paralympic Inspiration Programme which made him even more determined to get to Rio.

“Missing out on selection for London has made me fight even harder,” he said. “It made me realise that it doesn’t just get handed to you.  There is a big fire in my belly to get to the Paralympics because it is a massive achievement. When I first started I couldn’t hit the ball because I lacked co-ordination and I struggled so much learning the technique but I’m getting there.”

Originally from Liverpool and brought up on a council estate in Anfield, Jack was born with cerebral palsy and was blind and deaf until he was nine months old.  He discovered his passion for table tennis at an early age. “I was obsessed and just wanted to play all the time,” says Jack. “It is so easy to integrate into able bodied table tennis and you can’t do that in a lot of other sports.”

Proof that hard work pays off, Jack is the only player ever to win the Junior, Senior and Open British titles in the same year and competes in able bodied table tennis at county level as well as competing with the GB Para team. A win against the world number four in the Lignano Master Open in Italy in March 2013 was the start of a successful season for Jack in which he won nine medals, reached his first singles final and represented GB in the European Championships in Italy, performing with great credit on his major championship debut.

In 2014 Jack continued to progress and a number of good results, including a silver medal in the Slovakia Open, took him to a career high world ranking of nine and earned him a trip to China for the World Championships in September. He acquitted himself well, progressing from his group and playing well against the experienced Korean Kiyoung Kim in the last 16 despite losing 3-1.

“I think I’ve played better but in this environment in my first World Championships I’ve had a good performance as a whole and I think I’ve learnt a lot from it as well,” said Jack. “The big goal for me is Rio and that is going to involve a different culture, flying outside Europe and getting used to that and playing in these big pressure environments is really good for me.”

Jack began 2015 with bronze in Italy and then took team gold in Slovakia with Norwegian Paralympic champion Tommy Urhaug followed by silver in the men’s class 4-5 singles in Korea. In the European Championships he reached the quarter-finals of men’s class 5 singles but was disappointed to lose 3-0 to the World number six from Serbia Mitar Palikuca.

“I’ve beaten him the last few times we’ve played,” said Jack, “but he changed tactics and opened up a bit more. I haven’t got that winning edge yet in those sorts of matches but it takes experience to do that.”

Jack went to Beijing in November 2015 for the China Open needing some good results to keep his dream of competing in Rio alive and he responded by taking silver in the singles – a performance that secured his qualification for the 2016 Paralympic Games. He continued to progress and after more good results in 2016, including a victory over the World champion Valentin Baus in Slovakia in May he went to Rio as the world number seven.

“It means everything to me to be going to a Paralympic Games,” he said. “I’ve dreamt about this since I was a little kid. It is my first Games so experience is going to be a massive key point for me.”

After losing to Baus in his first group match he had to beat Claudiomiro Segatto from Brazil to progress to the knockout stages. He made a great start and was 2-0 up but after Segatto took a tight third set 12-10 the Brazilian always had the upper hand and he took the match 11-8 in the fifth to the delight of the home crowd.

“It was a good experience but I’m disappointed,” said Jack. “There are a lot of positives to take out of this and all sorts of things I can work on and I’ll be back in the future to win more matches.”

Liverpool fan Jack has inspired his younger sister to start playing table tennis, while his older brother designs computer games. “Mum is so proud of us,” says Jack. “When I first started playing table tennis it was £2.50 a session and I couldn’t go every day as we couldn’t afford it, but now I’m representing my country and my brother is working in Japan.”

Take 5 with Jack:

Most admired sportsman – Paul Davies

Place in the world you would most like to visit – Tokyo

Alternative occupation – actor

Your karaoke song – Ice Ice Baby

Superstitions – arranging all my GB kit in order the day before I play

and finally – Jack was an extra in Grange Hill and also appeared in Christmas Lights and the film Millions

2017 Results:
European Championships, Lasko, Slovenia – QF, men’s singles (class 5)
Slovenia Open – bronze, men’s singles (class 5); bronze, men’s teams (class 5)

2016 Results:
Paralympic Games, Rio de Janeiro – group stages, men’s singles (class 5)
Slovakia Open – silver, men’s singles (class 5); QF, men’s teams (class 5)
Slovenia Open – QF,men’s singles (class 5); QF, men’s teams (class 5)
Lignano Master Open, Italy – bronze, men’s singles (class 5); silver, men’s teams (class 4-5)

2015 Results:
China Open – silver, men’s singles (class 5); bronze, men’s teams (class 5)
European Championships, Vejle, Denmark – QF men’s singles (class 5)
Korea Open – silver, men’s singles (class 4-5); 4th, men’s teams RR (class 4-5)
Bayreuth Open, Germany – QF, men’s teams (class 5); group stages, men’s singles (class 5)
Slovakia Open – gold, men’s teams (class 5); QF men’s singles (class 5)
Slovenia Open – group stages, men’s singles (class 5); QF men’s teams (class 5)
Lignano Master Open, Italy – bronze, men’s singles (class 5); group stages, men’s teams (class 5)

2014 Results:
World Championships, Beijing, China – last 16, men’s singles (class 5)
Slovakia Open – silver, men’s singles (class 5)
Slovenia Open – silver, men’s teams (class 5); last 16, men’s singles (class 5)

Career highlights:
2016: Paralympic Games, Rio de Janeiro – group stages, men’s singles (class 5)
Lignano Master Open, Italy – bronze, men’s singles (class 5); silver, men’s teams (class 4-5)
2015: China Open – silver, men’s singles (class 5); bronze, men’s teams (class 5)
European Championships, Vejle, Denmark – QF men’s singles (class 5)
Slovakia Open – gold, men’s teams (class 5)
2014: World Championships, Beijing, China – last 16, men’s singles (class 5)
Slovenia Open – silver, men’s teams (class 5)
Slovakia Open – silver, men’s singles (class 5)
2013: US Open – bronze, men’s singles (class 5); gold, men’s teams (class 5)
Belgium Open – silver, men’s singles (class 5)
Czech Open – bronze, men’s singles (class 5); bronze, men’s teams (class 5)
Slovakian Open – bronze men’s singles (class 5); bronze men’s teams (class 5)
Hungarian Open – bronze, men’s singles (class 5); bronze, men’s teams (class 5)
2012: Slovenia Open – gold, men’s teams (class 5)
2011: British Open – bronze, men’s teams (class 5)

Further results available at: http://www.ipttc.org/players/men/jack_hunter_spivey/index.htm