GB Team – Kim Daybell

kdaybellbio

Date and place of birth: 11/08/1992, Sheffield
Home town: Sheffield
Lives: Leeds
Family: Mum Lee Choo and Dad Michael
TT Class: 10
Current world ranking: 9
TT Style: shakehand grip, attacking
International debut: 2008, German Open

Kim’s story

Kim started playing table tennis at the age of nine at home in the garage with his dad and was immediately attracted by the speed and excitement of the sport. He made his international debut in 2008 at the age of 16 and progressed to win gold medals in Germany, Italy, Slovakia and Romania before finishing fourth at the European Championships in 2011 and representing ParalympicsGB at London 2012.

“London 2012 was a real career highlight for me,” said Kim. “To compete in front of a home crowd on the biggest stage sport can offer really was a dream come true. The atmosphere was electric and I doubt if I will ever experience anything quite like it again. It was amazing to see how much people cared and wanted us to achieve.”

Sheffield born Kim has been inspired by Paralympic sport and since 2010 has combined his table tennis training with studying for a degree in Medicine at Leeds University.  “Seeing how severely disabled people can benefit from sport and play at such a high level made me want to help other disabled people to do the same,” explains Kim. “A major part of the appeal for me about Leeds University – as well as the course which is great – was the support they would give me as an athlete.”

In 2013 Kim took a bronze medal in Slovenia and reached the quarter finals of the singles in the European Championships before finishing the season in style with gold in the class 10 singles at the Belgian Open. He began 2014 with a silver medal in the team event in Slovenia and showed improved form at the World Championships in China – reaching the quarter-finals of the singles and recording some great wins in both singles and team event, losing only to the number one and number two in the world. He then confirmed his progress by taking gold in the men’s class 10 singles at the Cote d’Azur International without dropping a set.

“I’m playing a lot more positively,” said Kim. “I feel that I’m competing with the best players and I feel that I am one of the best players as I’ve got the wins under my belt now. I’m hoping to keep on improving and I think that in time the results should come as they did towards the end of 2014.”

While Kim plans to be a doctor he has ambitions to succeed at the highest level in sport as well. He admits that combining training with his medical studies can be hard and in 2015 he made the decision to take a year out of University to prepare for the Paralympic Games in Rio. After bronze medals in Italy and Slovenia he reached the quarter-finals in the singles in the European Championships but was bitterly disappointed to lose in four close sets to Ivan Karabec from the Czech Republic. In the team event he faced the former World and European champion again in the first singles match of the tie between GB and Czech Republic and he produced some great play to come back from 2-1 down to win the fourth set 11-4 and then held his nerve superbly to win the fifth 11-7 for a memorable victory over the World number six.

Although he and Ashley Facey Thompson were subsequently knocked out by France in the quarter finals Kim finished the competition in positive mood.

“We’ve pushed all the best teams in doubles,” he said, “and we’ve proved we can compete with the best teams in the world. I was pleased that I was able to pick myself up after not having the best singles competition here. I definitely feel that I’m up there and competing – I just need to bring it to the tournaments and I feel confident that I’ll be able to do that.”

With more time to train Kim also spent time in Slovenia, training with the national squad and competing in their able-bodied league. “It’s good to train against such a high level of competition,” he said. “The Slovenia national team is very strong and as good as it is training in Sheffield it is also good to train against able bodied players as it is more relevant to my class and it’s good to get the variation of playing against different people every day.”

Kim showed the benefit of that training by reaching the quarter-finals of the able bodied National Championships in 2016. He took singles medals in Italy, Slovenia and Slovakia and recorded a superb win in the group stages of the Paralympic men’s class 10 singles in Rio over the World number two David Jacobs of Indonesia.  Although he was disappointed to lose in the quarter-finals to the Chinese player Lian Hao Kim said afterwards: “I think overall I am pleased. I can look back on it and think that I brought my best table tennis which is always what I said I wanted to do. It’s a shame I couldn’t quite get there today but I think I can be proud of what I achieved.”

Kim was born with Poland’s syndrome – a rare condition characterised by underdevelopment or absence of the chest muscle on one side of the body – but as well as representing his country in Para table tennis he has also played at able bodied level.

Take 5 with Kim:

Sporting event you would most like a ticket for – Champions League Final

Three famous people you would most like to have a drink with – Usain Bolt, Lance Armstrong, John Lennon

Place in the world you would most like to visit – Nepal and northern India

Three words that describe you best – restless, determined, hard-working

If you had to appear in a reality programme which one would it be – Shipwrecked

and finally – Kim has also played badminton at county level and represented England in home nations events

2017 Results:
Slovenia Open – QF, men’s singles (class 10)

2016 Results:
Paralympic Games, Rio de Janeiro – QF, men’s singles (class 10); QF, men’s teams (class 9-10)
Slovakia Open – bronze, men’s singles (class 10); bronze, men’s teams (class 10)
Slovenia Open – bronze, men’s singles (class 10); QF, men’s teams (class 10)
Lignano Master Open, Italy – bronze, men’s singles (class 10); QF men’s teams (class 9-10)

2015 Results:
China Open – bronze, men’s teams (class 8-10); QF men’s singles (class 10)
European Championships, Vejle, Denmark – QF, men’s singles (class 10); QF, men’s teams (class 10)
Slovenia Open – bronze men’s singles (class 10); QF men’s teams (class 10)
Lignano Master Open, Italy – bronze, men’s singles (class 10); bronze, men’s teams (class 10)

2014 Results:
Cote d’Azur International, France – gold, men’s singles (class 10); bronze, men’s teams (class 10)
World Championships, Beijing, China – QF men’s singles (class 10); group stages, men’s teams (class 9-10)
Slovenia Open – silver, men’s teams (class 10); QF men’s singles (class 10)
National Championships – winner, men’s open singles (class 6-11); winner, doubles (mixed class 6-11)

Career Highlights:
2016: Paralympic Games, Rio de Janeiro – QF, men’s singles (class 10); QF, men’s teams (class 9-10)
2015: European Championships, Vejle, Denmark – QF, men’s singles (class 10); QF, men’s teams (class 10)
Slovenia Open – bronze men’s singles (class 10)
Lignano Master Open, Italy – bronze, men’s singles (class 10); bronze, men’s teams (class 10)
2014: Cote d’Azur International, France – gold, men’s singles (class 10); bronze, men’s teams (class 10)
World Championships, Beijing, China – QF men’s singles (class 10)
Slovenia Open – silver, men’s teams (class 10)
2013: Belgium Open – gold, men’s singles (class 10); bronze, men’s teams (class 10)
European Championships, Lignano, Italy – QF men’s singles (class 10)
2011: Romania Open – gold, men’s teams (class 10)
Bayreuth Open, Germany – gold, men’s singles (class 10); gold, men’s teams (class 10)
Slovakia Open – gold, men’s singles (class 10)
2010: Lignano Master Open – gold, men’s singles (class 10); gold, men’s teams (class 10)

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