The GB Para Table Tennis Team added two further medals in the team events at the Belgium Open today with Kim Daybell and David Wetherill both adding bronze to the gold medals they won in their respective singles events yesterday.
Daybell was partnered by Welsh squad member Nathan Thomas in the men’s class 10 team event and they reached the semi-finals before losing to the Russian combination of Pavel Lukyanov and Iurii Nozdrunov 3-0. Daybell, a 21 year old medical student from Sheffield, lost a tight opening singles match to Lukyanov 3-2, having beaten the Russian world number nine 3-1 in the final of the singles event yesterday.
“Lukyanov played a good game today,” said Daybell. “We always have very close matches so I was really pleased to beat him in the final yesterday. It was really nice to win gold in the singles as I haven’t won a tournament for a while. There were some good players here and I was able to get myself into the zone and raise my game when it mattered. It’s been a very busy month with training and university so getting a result here has been very pleasing.”
Wetherill and his 19 year old partner Martin Perry, from Paisley, who is part of the GB Pathway Squad, also reached the semi-finals of the combined men’s class 6-7 teams’ event where they lost 3-1 to the Swiss/Israeli combination of Valentin Kneuss and Shmuel Shur. Wetherill, 23, from Torpoint, gave his team a great start by beating Kneuss 3-1 but with Perry losing both his singles ties to the more experienced Kneuss and class 7 player Shur the doubles proved crucial as the GB pair lost 3-0.
Nevertheless, Wetherill can be pleased with his performance in Belgium following his disappointment at the European Championships.
“I feel that I did what I wanted to do here,” said Wetherill. “It’s been a difficult season for me, with injuries, some good wins but some bad losses. So it’s been good to win a gold medal here and get some of my confidence back.”
European champion Rob Davies did not play in the team event but was pleased to finish his season on a winning note after coming back from 2-1 down to beat Jean-Francois Ducay of France 3-2 and win gold in the men’s class 1 singles yesterday.
“I beat him 3-0 in the group stages,” said the 29 year old world number one from Brecon, “but the final was a lot harder, mentally more than anything. He played a much more attacking game and put me under a lot of pressure but I was able to claw my way back. I didn’t want to lose my number one ranking and I think I am just mentally stronger than I was last year. It’s been a dream year for me and I’m just really happy to end it on a winning note.”
Jack Hunter-Spivey, out of luck in the team event today in which he was partnered by 15 year old Welsh player Cellan Hall, was also happy with his silver medal in yesterday’s men’s class 5 singles. The 18 year old from Widnes has shown great potential this year and played two good matches in defeat to the world number three Valentin Baus from Germany
“It has been a big achievement for me,” said Hunter-Spivey. “This was my first international final and I’ve beaten players ranked above me. I had a big chance to beat Baus in the group stages but in the final he was just too strong for me. But I feel that I’m competing well with the top players and I’m not too far away from them.”
“It’s been a very good tournament,” said head coach Greg Baker. “It could have been difficult for the players who competed in the European Championships to get themselves motivated but they all stepped up and it was good for the young players out here to see our Performance Squad players do well. Some of the young players on our Pathway Squad also had good wins and showed that they have real potential if they continue to work hard.”