The European Para Table Tennis Championships start tomorrow with the round-robin group stages of the men’s and women’s singles following today’s opening ceremony in the Ge.Tur Sports Complex in the Italian city of Lignano Sabbiadoro.
The 13 players who will be representing GB arrived in Italy on Thursday and are ready to take on the best of Europe.
This evening’s draw has thrown up some stern challenges for the British team, with only two players from each group going through to the knockout stages of the competition that will start on Sunday and conclude with the finals on Monday.
Paralympic silver medalist Will Bayley, who is the reigning European champion in the men’s class 7 singles, starts tomorrow against Davide Scazzieri of Italy and is looking forward to defending his title.
“I don’t really feel any more pressure than I did before,” said Bayley, who won gold here in the Lignano Master Open earlier this year. “I just feel that because I’ve done it before I can do it again. So I’m using it as a positive – I know what I have to do to win so I just want to do it again.”
Paul Davies, bronze medalist in London 2012, faces strong opposition in the men’s class 1 singles from among others his team mate and fellow Welshman Rob Davies, who will be hoping to go one better than the silver he won in the last European Championship in 2011 and make up for London 2012 when he was knocked out of the competition in the group stages.
“Training has been going really well,” said Rob Davies. “Hopefully I can win some matches and it goes the same way as 2011 and I can be in the medals again. What happened in London was a massive disappointment and I’m using it this year to come back stronger – be more positive and relaxed and try as hard as I can.”
Gorazd Vecko, GB Performance Director, said: “It is going to be a very tough competition as many of the world’s top players are competing here. We’ve had a chance to train in the competition hall and the playing conditions are as good as anywhere in the world. The players are ready and looking forward to the challenge.”
The full GB squad is:
Will Bayley (Lives: Rotherham; Home town: Tunbridge Wells) – class 7
Jane Campbell (Lives: Clerkenwell, London) – class 3
Paul Davies (Lives: North Cornelly) – class 1
Rob Davies (Lives: Brecon) – class 1
Kim Daybell (Lives: Leeds; Home town: Sheffield) – class 10
Ashley Facey Thompson (Lives: Rotherham; home town: Stratford, London) – class 9
Susan Gilroy (Lives: Barnsley) – class 4
Sara Head (Lives: Beddau) – class 3
Jack Hunter-Spivey (Lives: Widnes) – class 5
Paul Karabardak (Lives: Swansea) – class 7
Aaron McKibbin (Lives: Rotherham; home town: Wandsworth, London) – class 8
Felicity Pickard (Lives: Burnley) – class 6
David Wetherill (Lives: Torpoint) – class 6
For further information, please contact the GB Para Table Tennis Team press officer Francesca Bullock on 07768 515841 or email: email@example.com