Golden finish for GB in Spain

A young British squad of Pathway and Development players finished the 2017 PTT Spanish Open Ciutat del Prat on a high today with Alex Bland and Lee Wilkinson taking gold in the men’s class 7 team event. Lucie Bouron and Sweden’s Anna-carin Ahlquist took silver in women’s class 2-5 and Marc Bonnar crowned his international debut with a bronze medal in the men’s 1-2 team event with Argentinian partner Guillermo Bustamante Sierra.

Alex Bland 3Lee Wilkinson2Bland and Wilkinson won their first two matches in the round-robin men’s class 7 event against Norway/Austria (2-1) and Spain (2-0). Their final match against Sweden was to decide the gold and they defeated Sam Gustafsson and Noah Olsson 2-0 to add the gold to the bronze medals they won in the singles.

“I thought Lee and I worked well together as a team,” said Bland, “and we deserved the gold which we earned partly by playing a great doubles match in our gold medal match against Sweden.”

“I thought Alex and I did well considering we hadn’t played together before,” agreed Wilkinson. “I enjoyed playing with Alex and we worked well together in the doubles.”

Lucie BouronBouron and her illustrious partner Ahlquist, the class 3 World number one, topped their group in women’s class 2-5 with 2-0 wins against Thailand and a combined team from Thailand and the USA. They came through their semi-final against France 2-0 but found the Brazilian partnership of Joyce Oliveira and Catia Da Silva Oliveira just too strong in the final.

“I’m really pleased with our silver medal after a well-fought final against Brazil,” said Bouron. “It was a great experience playing with such a World class player as Anna-carin as my partner and it has helped me to learn which areas that I can work on to reach the level I want.”

Marc BonnarBonnar and Bustamente Sierra began with a 2-0 win against Chinese Taipei followed by a 2-0 loss to Thailand but they progressed from the group in second place with a 2-1 win against France. They lost to the Irish/Spanish combination of Colin Judge and Miguel Toledo in the semi-final 2-0 but Bonnar can be very proud of taking a medal in his first international event.

“Coming to Barcelona was valuable for my development,” he said. “Gaining experience at an international tournament and being able to play a variety of class 2 players has given me an idea of what is expected. We had a strong team event with some very close games and taking bronze in my first international has given me a lot of motivation to move forward.”

Dan Bullen, silver medallist in the men’s class 5 singles, was out of luck in the team event as he and partner Tommy Urhaug progressed from their group thanks to a 2-1 win against Russia but were knocked out in the quarter-finals by the first Chinese Taipei team (2-0).

Conor McAdam and Junki Itai from Japan finished third in the round-robin men’s class 6 team with one win from three matches – 2-0 against Ireland – but only two medals were awarded.

In men’s class 8 Declan Tobin and Irishman Patrik Vaughan lost their matches to Sweden, Japan, Indonesia and Norway 2-0 while Craig Allen and Elliott Medland went out of men’s class 10 at the group stages after a 2-0 loss to Japan and a 2-1 loss to Spain.