European medalists Tom Matthews and Billy Shilton have been named in the British Para Table Tennis Performance squad for 2017.
Matthews, 24, joined the British Pathway squad in 2013 and partnered Paralympic champion and fellow Welshman Rob Davies to win the men’s class 1 European team title in 2015, having also taken bronze in the singles event. After narrowly missing out on qualification for Rio 2016 he missed most of last year after breaking his leg in the spring but returned in December to take gold in the US Open, beating the Korean World number five and Rio bronze medalist KiWon Nam in the final.
Shilton, 18, also joined the Pathway squad in 2013 and made rapid progress to take bronze in the men’s class 7 singles and silver in the men’s class 7 teams at the European Championships in 2015. The Gloucestershire teenager missed out on Paralympic qualification after being reclassified as a class 8 athlete but went to Rio as part of ParalympicsGB’s Paralympic Inspiration Programme.
“Both Tom and Billy have been selected for the Performance Squad because of the potential they have shown over the last two years,” said BPTT Performance Director Gorazd Vecko.
“Tom just missed qualification for Rio and then lost eight months away from the table following an accident but before that he had beaten top 10 players in the world and was starting to beat top five players in the world. His performance in winning gold in Las Vegas in December showed that he will soon become a World top 10 athlete. I believe that Tom will be a future medalist for GB in major championships and he is a great prospect for Tokyo 2020.
“Billy has been part of the programme now for the last four years and he has shown consistent improvement. He moved to Sheffield last year, which was the first big step for him towards joining the Performance squad, and now he has shown that he is a performance athlete and he understands what he needs to do to be a future medalist at the major competitions. He also played really well in the US Open at the end of last year and it is looking strong for the programme that we can take players from the Pathway squad to the Performance squad and this is how it should work.”
The full BPTT Performance Squad for 2017 is:
Will Bayley MBE (class 7) – Tunbridge Wells/Sheffield
Paul Davies (class 1) – North Cornelly
Rob Davies MBE (class 1) – Brecon
Kim Daybell (class 10) – Leeds/Sheffield
Ashley Facey Thompson (class 9) – London
Sue Gilroy MBE (class 4) – Barnsley
Jack Hunter-Spivey (class 5) – Liverpool/Sheffield
Paul Karabardak (class 6) – Swansea
Tom Matthews (class 1) – Aberdare
Aaron McKibbin (class 8) – London/Sheffield
Megan Shackleton (class 4) – Todmorden
Billy Shilton (class 8) – Stonehouse/Sheffield
David Wetherill (class 6) – Torpoint
Ross Wilson (class 8) – Minster/Sheffield
Paralympic champions Will Bayley and Rob Davies have each been given an MBE for services to table tennis in the New Year Honours list published today.
World champion Bayley, who was born with arthrogryphosis and survived childhood cancer, took gold in the men’s class 7 singles in Rio, four years after losing in the final in London 2012.
“I’m so delighted to be given an MBE,” said the 28 year old from Tunbridge Wells. “It is a huge honour and means so much to me. I’m proud every day to represent Great Britain and I feel privileged to have been able to represent my country in three Paralympic Games already. I’m still hungry for more medals and my long term goal is retaining my title in Tokyo 2020 where I will hopefully be at my peak.
“I would like to say thanks my coach Gorazd Vecko and to all my GB team mates and support staff; without them I would not be the player I am today. Thanks also to Gary Howes at Byng Hall – my first table tennis club – and to all my sponsors and supporters over the last 10 years who have believed in me and have made it possible for me to compete at this level. I hope to continue to repay your trust and belief in the years to come.
“I couldn’t have achieved anything without the support of my family – my mum, step-dad and my brother – the amazing team at Great Ormond Street Hospital and a dear family friend Linda Slade, who sadly passed away last year and did so much to help me.”
Davies played semi-professional rugby until a spinal cord injury while playing left him wheelchair-bound at the age of 21. Disappointed not to win a medal in London 2012 he responded by taking European gold in 2013 and becoming World number one. European champion again in 2015 he took gold in the men’s class 1 singles in Rio.
“I feel absolutely ecstatic that I’ve been named in this year’s honours list to receive an MBE,” said the 32 year old Welshman. “My face just lit up when I read the letter – I was just so overwhelmed and happy. I just couldn’t believe it! I feel so privileged and proud and would just like to thank everybody who’s been part of this amazing journey I’ve been on. I can’t wait to make 2017 special!”
The British Para Table Tennis Team took two team medals at the PTT US Open in Las Vegas with Martin Perry adding silver in men’s class 6-7 to the gold he won in the men’s class 6 singles and Billy Shilton winning silver in men’s class 8.
“I feel that I’ve played positive table tennis throughout,” said Perry, who was partnered in the team event by the Chilean Matias Pino Lorca. “It could have been very easy to get distracted out here in Las Vegas but I feel that the mental strength of the whole team has really shown as we have kept each other grounded and focused throughout. I’m over the moon with my first senior title! I put a lot of hard work in back home and in Sheffield and it’s nice to see it paying dividends on the big day. I’m incredibly happy with some of my wins out here; to have beaten the world number 11 for the second time in a row really does fill me with confidence going forward into 2017.”
Shilton combined with the Italian Samuel De Chiara to take the silver in men’s class 8, the pair winning all their group matches and their semi-final against The Netherlands 2-0 and only losing in the final to the experienced Swedish combination of former world number one Emil Andersson and Linus Karlsson.
Shilton won the deciding singles against Norway in the group and The Netherlands and was happy to bounce back from his disappointment in the singles.
“I didn’t play great in the singles event and struggled to maintain a good level of focus,” he said. “But I had a good chat with my coach Shaun about finding ways to re-focus and I brought it into my matches in the team event. I was really pleased with how I performed during the team event and it was great to win a silver medal in my last tournament of the year. Next year my aims are to break into the top 15 in the world and qualify for the World championships.”
Tom Matthews was thrilled to win his first singles gold medal on his return from injury.
“It was tough as it was my first international back since Italy in February,” said the European team champion. “I knew my training had gone well up to the event but it was just settling my nerves and playing with confidence and consistency that got me through. I admit I was very nervous in my semi-final coming up against a player I’ve never faced before and being back in that pressure situation, and to pull through that was a good stepping stone to my final match against Nam. Going 2-0 down was always going to be difficult to fight back against a top player but I just thought to myself ‘fight for every ball and just get it on the table’ and it paid off.
“I’m over the moon to win my first international gold especially against such a great opponent. I’d just like to say a big thank you to everyone for getting me back up to match fitness after my injury and just thank you for all the support.”
Two of the British Para Table Tennis Team’s brightest young prospects have taken gold in their respective singles events at the PTT US Open in Las Vegas. Tom Matthews made a winning return from injury in men’s class 1 and Martin Perry also won his first singles gold in men’s class 6.
Matthews was playing in his first international competition since February after breaking his leg in the spring and after a walkover against the American Sebastian De Francesco he topped his group with wins against Matti Launonen from Finland (3-1) and the Korean Hakjin Kim (3-0).
A 3-1 win over the Argentinian Guillermo Bustamante Sierra took him into the final against World number five KiWon Nam and when the Korean took the first two sets he looked to be in control. But Matthews showed all his determination and fight to come back and win the next three and secure his first singles gold medal.
Perry began with a great 3-0 win against the very experienced and top ranked Danny Bobrov from Israel and secured first place in his group with further wins against two Americans Ari Arratia (3-1) and Edward Schneider (3-0). He reached the final with a 3-1 win against the Chilean Matias Pino Lorca and also showed his fighting spirit to come from 2-1 down against the talented young American Ian Seidenfeld to take the gold.
Billy Shilton played well to win his three group matches in men’s class 8 against Gabriel Salazar Perez from Ecuador (3-1), Pablo Jacobsen from Norway (3-0) and the American Solomon Sesaye (3-0) but was disappointed to lose in the quarter-final to the Italian Samuel De Chiara.
The competition continues with the team event that concludes tomorrow.
World champion Will Bayley’s achievement in winning Paralympic gold in Rio has been recognised today by the Sports Journalists Association which presented him with the Bill McGowran Award for outstanding achievement in Paralympic sport by a man. The award for a woman went to Kadeena Cox who won Paralympic gold in athletics and cycling.
Bayley received the award at a glittering ceremony at the Tower of London and said: “This is such a big award for me personally but also for table tennis and it is amazing to get some recognition for the sport.”
The 28 year old was born with arthrogryphosis and also overcame childhood cancer. After taking silver in London 2012 he became World champion in 2014 and his table-topping celebration after winning gold in Rio became one of the most iconic images of the 2016 Paralympic Games.
The British Para table tennis team is sending three of its most promising young players to compete in the 2016 PTT US Open in Las Vegas this week (December 14-16). European team gold medalist Tom Matthews and 18 year old European bronze medalist Billy Shilton will be joined by fellow Pathway squad member Martin Perry and the three will be hoping to finish a successful season for the team on a high note.
Matthews will be competing for the first time since the Italian Open in February after breaking his leg in the spring.
“Training has been going very well since returning from injury,” said the 24 year old Welshman. “I feel having the time off has matured me as a player mentally on and off the table. I feel I’m playing some of my best table tennis at the moment, getting good consistency and really enjoying being on the table. I’m looking forward to testing myself against the international players once again.”
Perry will be playing his first international competition for six months but has been preparing for the US Open by playing local league matches in Sheffield, where he is now based with the British Para table tennis squad.
“Training has been good,” he said. “I feel that I’m playing quite well at the moment and this week will be a good opportunity to end the year on a high and try out some new things we’ve been working on that I hope are going to improve my game in the future.”
The ParalympicsGB table tennis team won two gold medals in Rio and Perry admits to being inspired by their achievements.
“Four years ago I watched these guys as strangers win medals in London,” he said, “and that made me realise I want to give this sport everything I’ve got. Now I’ve been training with the team for around two and a half years, and full time with them for a year, and these guys are friends and teammates – family almost – and to watch them win medals has been incredible. Training in the same environment and knowing I’m working towards the same goals in future has really spurred me on.”
Shilton just missed out on selection for the Paralympic Games but went to Rio as part of the Paralympic Inspiration Programme.
“I was really honoured to be selected for the programme and going to Rio was an amazing experience,” he said. “It’s really motivated me to go on now and get to Tokyo. That’s always been my long-term aim, to qualify for a Paralympics, so hopefully I can do that.”
Paralympic and World champion Will Bayley could soon be immortalised in LEGO if creator Neil Marsden can generate enough support to convince LEGO to make his set.
Neil is a coach at Byng Hall Table Tennis Club in Tunbridge Wells, where Will started his career, and is also an amateur LEGO modeller in his spare time.
“I’ve created a set to celebrate Will’s gold medal in Rio,” said Neil, “and I’ve added it to the LEGO Ideas website. LEGO Ideas allows the general public to vote on each proposed LEGO idea and if an idea gets 10,000 votes then LEGO will consider turning the idea into a real LEGO set that you can buy in the shops. However, first it needs 10,000 votes which is quite a challenge! “
You can register your support for the Will Bayley LEGO set here: https://ideas.lego.com/projects/160531
Could be the perfect Christmas gift next year!
What are Talent Recruitment Days ?
British Para Table Tennis is actively searching for new talented athletes to become part of our Pathway Programme as we look to expand our talent pool for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games and beyond. Over the next 18 months, British Para Table Tennis will be running a number or Talent Recruitment Days across Great Britain.
To get involved, please read the brochure by clicking the link below.
Does your disability fit within International classification set by the International Table Tennis Federation?
If you have any questions please contact Shaun Marples whose information is in the brochure.
The World Masters Games 2017 is being held in Auckland, New Zealand between 21st – 30th April 2017 and table tennis will be among the 11 Para sports included.
Further information on the event can be found here: http://www.worldmastersgames2017.co.nz/the-sports/para-sports/
Anyone interested in competing should contact the organisers direct and will need to be self-funded and be responsible for all arrangements.
It is with great sadness that we have learnt of the sudden death of Deborah Davies, the wife of Paul Davies – a member of the GB Para Table Tennis squad who was bronze medallist in men’s class 1 singles in the London 2012 Paralympic Games and men’s class 1 European Team Champion in 2013 with Rob Davies. Deborah accompanied Paul to all his international competitions as his carer and was a valued member of the GB team. She was in Rio with Paul and as always was a great help to all the team with her kindness, good humour and enthusiastic support of all the athletes.
GB Performance Director Gorazd Vecko and one of his predecessors Dave Hewitt have both paid tribute to Deborah as a much respected team member who contributed greatly to the overall team ethos; these sentiments have also come from our President Philip Lewis MBE and Vice-President John Jenkins MBE as well as the British Paralympic Association and all at UK Sport. Our deep sympathy and condolences go to Paul and his family.
A funeral service for Deborah will be held at 2:30pm on Thursday, October 6th at Margam Crematorium, Longland Lane, Port Talbot SA13 2NR.
Karen Tonge MBE