McAdam takes gold in Spain

Young British Pathway athlete Conor McAdam took gold in the men’s class 6-7 singles in the PTT Spanish Junior (U23) Tournament today in El Prat de Llobregat, with Development athlete Alex Bland taking bronze.

Bland, from Rotherham, had topped his group in men’s class 6-7 yesterday with wins against the American Ari Arratia 3-0 and Noah Olsson from Sweden 3-1. McAdam lost his first group match to Conor O’Callaghan from Ireland 3-0 but went through to an all-British semi-final against Bland with a 3-0 win against class 7 player Sam Gustafsson from Sweden.

MCADAM Conor Kenneth Lignano Junior OpenIn today’s semi-final it was 19 year old McAdam, from Dundonald, who came out on top with a 3-1 win against 17 year old Bland. In the final McAdam avenged his defeat yesterday to O’Callaghan, beating the Irishman 3-0 to take the gold – a great performance from the class 6 player.

“I thought I played better today than yesterday,” said McAdam. “I felt I was more focused and ready to play well. I’m really happy with the outcome, especially after coming through some challenging matches.”

Alex Bland“This was my best performance internationally,” said Bland, “including winning my first match against a seeded player and my first medal so I am happy with what I have achieved, which is largely down to me putting less pressure on myself.”

McAdam and Bland will join seven other British players in the senior tournament that starts tomorrow.

Posted in GB

Bullen and Allen take silver in Spanish Junior Tournament

British Pathway squad players Dan Bullen and Craig Allen took silver in their respective classes at the PTT Spanish Junior Tournament today in El Prat de Llobregat. Alex Bland and Conor McAdam progressed from their group in men’s class 6-7 and will play each other in the semi-finals tomorrow.

BULLEN Daniel Lignano Junior OpenBullen began the round-robin men’s class 5 singles with a 1-3 loss to the eventual gold medallist David Olsson from Sweden but the 19 year old from St Neots clinched the silver medal with 3-0 wins against Kamon Sayjan and his compatriot from Thailand Teeradech Klangmanee.

“It has been a good event for me getting the silver,” said Bullen. “It was a slow start against David but when I got going I was playing well and got the job done. Overall it was a good day and I’m looking forward to the start of the senior tournament on Friday.”

ALLEN Craig Mark Lignano Junior OpenAllen had two hard-fought 3-2 wins against Takumi Tsujimura from Japan and Ali Alsanea from Kuwait in the round-robin men’s class 9 but his match against Shaquille Rivera Vicente proved decisive with the Puerta Rican taking it 3-1 and going on to win the gold medal.

“After losing a tough first match I managed to pull through mentally and win both of my last two matches that went to five sets,” said the 22 year old from Bromsgrove. “I played well so I’m feeling good for the senior tournament.”

Bland topped his group in men’s class 6-7 with wins against the American Ari Arratia 3-0 and Noah Olsson from Sweden 3-1. McAdam lost his first group match to Conor O’Callaghan from Ireland 0-3 but earned his semi-final place with a 3-0 win against Sam Gustafsson from Sweden.

In men’s class 8 neither Declan Tobin or Euan McLaughlin came through their group although McLaughlin came very close to winning his second match against Iver Christiansen, eventually losing to the Norwegian 9-11 in the fifth. Elliot Medland was also knocked out of men’s class 10 at the group stage after losses to Bunpot Sillapakong from Thailand and the Spaniard Edgar Mataro.

Posted in GB

Young British squad for Spanish Open

The British Para Table Tennis Team is taking a squad of 10 Pathway and Development players to the 2017 PTT Spanish Open Ciutat del Prat and Junior (U23) Tournament taking place in El Prat de Llobregat from June 7-11.

The full squad is:

Factor 20 Tournament:
Marc Bonnar – Class 1 (Ingleby, Middlesborough)
Lucie Bouron – Class 3 (Bracknell)
Lee Wilkinson – Class 7 (Evesham)

Factor 20 and Junior Tournaments:
Alex Bland – Class 7 (Rotherham)
Daniel Bullen – Class 5 (St Neots)
Craig Allen – Class 9 (Bromsgrove)
Conor McAdam – Class 6 (Dundonald)
Declan Tobin – Class 8 (Airdie)
Elliot Medland – Class 10 (Clydebank)

Junior Tournament:
Euan McLaughlin – Class 8 (Glasgow)

Ellie Simmonds and Lutalo Muhammad lead the call for nationwide backing of SportsAid Week

British sporting heroes Ellie Simmonds OBE and Lutalo Muhammad have thrown their support behind SportsAid Week 2017 by signing up to be official ambassadors of this year’s initiative. Ellie and Lutalo, who both received a helping hand from SportsAid at the beginning of their careers, are giving their backing to the fundraising drive, taking place from 25 September to 1 October, designed to support the next generation of athletes striving to represent Team GB and ParalympicsGB at future Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The inaugural SportsAid Week was launched in 2016 to mark the charity’s 40th anniversary and generated over £40,000 with Olympians, Paralympians, up-and-coming athletes, National Governing Bodies, schools, universities, commercial organisations and individuals coming together for a week of fun and fundraising. The initiative was such a success that it has now become an annual fixture. Five-time Paralympic champion Ellie, who also acted as a SportsAid Week ambassador last year and called it a ‘big celebration’, said ‘I can’t wait for it to come back around again this September’.

Image - Ellie Simmonds#1“I love meeting the young athletes SportsAid supports and seeing the drive and determination they have to be the best they can be,” said swimming legend Ellie. “I remember when I had help from SportsAid and it’s really important when you’re starting out in your sport. It gives you the confidence to push on and succeed knowing that there are people out there who believe in you. That’s why SportsAid Week is such a great idea. It’s an opportunity to show the next generation of athletes that we’re right behind them and want to do what we can to help them on their way.”

Team GB taekwondo star Lutalo has joined Ellie in urging the British public to ‘make a real difference to our future Olympic and Paralympic champions’ by calling for widespread support of SportsAid Week. The charity helps over 1,000 athletes across more than 60 sports each year, the majority aged 12 to 18, as they and their parents look to meet costs such as equipment, accommodation and transport. Olympic silver and bronze medallist Lutalo received help from SportsAid for three consecutive years – the first award coming shortly before turning 18 in 2009.

Last year’s SportsAid Week saw a diverse range of fundraising activity undertaken including bake sales, sports quizzes, fancy dress days, raffles, bucket collections and healthy eating challenges. Raising as little as £5 can be enough to help a young athlete travel to their next training session whilst £1,000 is able to fund a major one-off cost such as a warm-weather training camp or transport and accommodation for an international competition. Lutalo, who was targeting selection for London 2012 at the time, recalls how ‘grateful’ he was to have ‘received the support when I did’.

“SportsAid has played an instrumental role in my career,” said Lutalo. “The money allowed me to go to a couple of extra tournaments where I was noticed by the GB Academy. You see the financial pressure you’re putting on your mum and dad, all because they want to help you achieve your dream of becoming Olympic champion, so receiving that help from the outside provides you with the recognition you’re going in the right direction. Fundraising is so important to SportsAid being able to give out financial awards to young athletes – just like they did for me.”

SportsAid Week 2017 also sees the introduction of the #MyMiles challenge – a social media led campaign asking fundraisers to undertake physical activity, covering a distance of their choice, to raise money for the charity. The inspiration behind the concept came after many fundraisers decided to support young athletes by taking on sponsored triathlons, bike rides, rows, run, swims and walks during last year’s initiative. #MyMiles is accessible to everybody – you can do a single mile or cover 40 – that’s the distance a SportsAid athlete, on average, will clock up each week in training.

SportsAid has played a vital role in the success of British sport since 1976. The charity’s impact was demonstrated at the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games when 150 medals (64 gold, 43 silver, 43 bronze) were won for Team GB and ParalympicsGB by previous beneficiaries of SportsAid awards. Sir Mo Farah, Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill, Laura Trott CBE, Dame Sarah Storey, Richard Whitehead MBE, Adam Peaty MBE and Georgie Hermitage MBE are just a small group of SportsAid alumni, in addition to Ellie and Lutalo, that won medals in Rio.

SportsAid Week takes place from Monday 25 September to Sunday 1 October. You can find out more about this year’s initiative and the #MyMiles challenge by clicking here

Posted in GB

Vecko happy with performance of young squad at World Team Championships

Aaron & Billy v SWE World Champs 2The British team ended the inaugural PTT World Team Championships in Slovakia on a winning note today as Aaron McKibbin and Billy Shilton won their final play-off match against Slovakia to secure 7th place in men’s class 8. After the British pair fought back from 2-1 down to win the doubles, 18 year old Shilton pushed former World champion Richard Csejtey in three close sets despite a 3-0 loss before McKibbin won the match with a 3-0 victory over Josef Krsiak.

GB Performance Director Gorazd Vecko was happy with the performance of his young squad at these championships.

“To bring four teams here and take three bronze medals is a good result,” he said, “especially as it is still early in the season and our priority this year is the European Championships so we are preparing our players to produce their highest level in September. We didn’t bring our two best players Rob Davies and Will Bayley – our gold medallists from Rio – and we wanted to give experience to our younger players as whatever we do over the next four years is all preparation for the Paralympic Games in Tokyo.

“For our men’s class 6 team to beat the European champions Denmark and for David Wetherill to beat the Paralympic champion from Rio, Peter Rosenmeier, was an incredible performance by the whole team and I was really happy to see three players from England, Wales and Scotland all working really well together.

“For Megan Shackleton to play the Paralympic champion in a major championship was very valuable experience and to get her first World medal shows great promise for the future – she and Sue Gilroy proved that they can compete against the best teams in the world in women’s class 4.

“In men’s class 1 we lost out on the gold on countback although we beat Italy who took the gold. We were without our best class 1 player Rob Davies so that was a good result and Tom Matthews showed that he is also a great prospect.

“Ross Wilson was unable to play due to a back injury so we also have to be happy with men’s class 8 as we were able to give more experience to Billy Shilton who was playing in his first World championship. He and Aaron McKibbin were disappointed not to go through to the knockout stages but they came back and won their two play-off matches, which was a really good performance.

“I was very proud of the whole squad as they all showed great fighting spirit in all their matches. We came here wanting to give experience to our young players so we need to be happy with three medals at our first World Team Championships.”

Posted in GB

Three bronze medals for British team at World Team Championships

The British team took three bronze medals at the PTT World Team Championships in Slovakia today in men’s class 1, men’s class 6 and women’s class 4-5.

Paul Davies and Tom Matthews were denied the gold medal in men’s class 1 on countback at the end of the round-robin event. They won their first doubles match of the tournament against Hungary but Endre Major levelled the tie with a 3-1 win against Davies. Matthews has had to win the deciding singles in their previous two matches here and he did so again, beating Janos Kaiser 3-0 to win the tie for Britain 2-1.

MATTHEWS Thomas DAVIES Paul World TeamsThat left the Welsh pair needing to win their final match against top seeds Korea to take the gold after KiWon Nam and Jae-kwan Cho were surprisingly beaten by Italy. But they lost the doubles 3-0 and the match 2-0 when Matthews was beaten 3-1 by the Paralympic bronze medallist Nam. With three teams tied on points the medals were decided on countback and Italy took the gold, Korea the silver and Britain the bronze.

“Against Hungary this morning our doubles was absolutely brilliant,” said Davies, 50, who now has a World medal to add to his Paralympic and European ones. “We put Tom in as number one against Korea because he has more experience against Nam but unfortunately Nam came out on top today and we lost in the doubles as well. Italy won the gold even though we beat them yesterday so it is one of those unfortunate things. But we’ve got a World team bronze which is good in my eyes. Fair play to Tom – it is a massive achievement for him to get his first World medal and it gives me the box set as I’ve now got one of each so I’m happy as well.”

“Our doubles got better through the tournament,” said 24 year old Matthews. “Slovenia last week was the first time we had played together and going to a World championships was always going to be difficult but we did cause some problems to the other teams and we managed to up our game. It has been really good experience – there was a lot of pressure and I think I handled it well and I’m really happy with my performance.”

After their great win against European champions Denmark yesterday Paul Karabardak, David Wetherill and Martin Perry ensured their progress to the men’s class 6 semi-final as group winners with a 2-0 win against Chile. Karabardak and Wetherill combined well to win the doubles 3-0 and Karabardak won the tie with a 3-1 victory over Matias Pino Lorca. They made a great start to their semi-final against Croatia, winning the doubles 3-0, and from 2-0 down Wetherill was just edged out in a thrilling match against Pavao Jozic, 12-10 in the fifth. That left Karabardak to play the deciding singles and he was beaten for the first time in the tournament by Vjekoslav Gregorovic, 13-11 in the fourth.

Martin Perry and Paul Karabardak World Team champs“I think I’ve played well over the last three days,” said Swansea’s Karabardak, who has only been back in training for two weeks after injuring his foot in Italy in March. “I was pleased with my performance and pleased to get a bronze medal. We had a good start to the semi – winning the doubles when I think Dave and I played the best we’ve ever played together – and we have to give credit to Croatia because they played well in the singles. World championship medals are not easy to win so I’m pleased to have two now.”

Wetherill also had to overcome a knee injury incurred in Slovenia last week and was delighted with his win yesterday against the Paralympic champion Peter Rosenmeier.

David Wetherill World Team Champs“Against Rosenmeier I was really pumped for it and I felt comfortable,” said the 27 year old from Torpoint. “Mentally, tactically and technically I played really strong so that is positive to know that when I get things right I can beat anyone. We are disappointed that we’ve lost but we have to be proud because Paul and I are not 100% fit and it is down to fine margins. Sometimes you just need a little bit of luck – Paul had a few edges against him and a deuce set at the end and it is those fine margins but we are not far off. We are class 6 so probably we are never going to be 100% but given the circumstances we have played incredibly well.”

Martin Perry World Team ChampsFor Martin Perry it was a medal at his first major championship.

“I feel that is definitely the strongest performance we’ve had as a team,” said the 23 year old from Paisley. “We are such a tight knit unit and that is going to stand us in good stead for the future. It’s been such an eye-opening experience – my first major championships – and to do it alongside Dave and Paul who have done multiple Paralympic Games and major championships – I can only thrive off that.”

The key match for Sue Gilroy and Megan Shackleton in the round-robin women’s class 4-5 proved to be against Germany in the morning. The British pair fought back from 2-1 down in the doubles to level at 2-2 but Sandra Mikolaschek and Lisa Hentig took the deciding fifth set 11-8 to take a 1-0 lead. Gilroy and Mikolaschek have had some tight matches over the last three years including at the Paralympic Games in Rio last year when Gilroy won 13-11 in the fifth. This time it was the 19 year old German who came out on top – taking the match 11-6 in the fifth and securing a 2-0 win for Germany.

GILROY Susan SHACKLETON Megan World Team ChampsGilroy and Shackleton were still in with a chance of gold going in to their final match against the top seeds Serbia but Paralympic champion Borislava Peric-Rankovic and Rio bronze medallist Nada Matic were in top form today and after combining with Matic to win the doubles 3-0, Peric Rankovic made sure of the gold with a 3-0 win against 18 year old Shackleton.

“We had so many chances against Germany,” said Gilroy. “We played really well but we just made a few too many errors. We needed to win the doubles and hopefully in future we can spend more time practising together. We can take a lot of positives from our first World team medal together. We’re a relatively new partnership and hadn’t played together for a year before Slovenia last week so it is a fantastic achievement to get a bronze medal and I’m really pleased.”

“I feel that we have had a really good tournament,” said Shackleton. “To improve on the results we had in Slovenia last week just shows we are working well as a partnership and hopefully we have a good future ahead of us. I feel that I’ve learnt a lot from this tournament especially playing the last match against the Paralympic champion under that sort of pressure and learning to deal with it. It will take time but I feel like it is coming together now.”

Aaron McKibbin and Billy Shilton beat Germany 2-1 in the men’s class 8 play-offs and play a final match tomorrow against Slovakia to decide their finishing position in the tournament.

Posted in GB

British team still in the medal hunt on Day 2 of World Team Championships

It was another successful day for the British team on day two of the PTT World Team Championships in Slovakia.

Megan Shackleton Slovenia 2017Sue Gilroy World Champs v SVK 2It began with a win for Sue Gilroy and Megan Shackleton in their second match in the round-robin women’s class 4-5 event against the World Championship silver medallists Chinese Taipei. The pair combined to beat Lu Pi-chun and Lee Ya-Chu 3-1 in the doubles and Gilroy then won a close first set against Lu 12-10 before going on to beat the Chinese Taipei number one 3-0.

“Megan and I played much better in the doubles and there is definitely more flow in our partnership today,” said Gilroy. “Last week was our first time playing together after a year gap but I think we are starting to understand each other as the tournament goes on.”

Gilroy and Shackleton play their final two matches tomorrow against Germany and top seeds Serbia which will decide the medals.

Paul Davies World Team Champs 2MATTHEWS ThomasPaul Davies and Tom Matthews are a new partnership for Britain in men’s class 1 and the Welsh pair lost the opening doubles today in their second round-robin match against Italy, as they did when the two teams met in the Slovenia Open last week. Once again Davies kept them in the tie with a 3-1 win against Andrea Borgato and Matthews fought off a spirited challenge by Federico Falco – taking the deciding singles 12-10 in the fifth after the Italian had come back from 2-0 down to level at 2-2.

“I feel that our doubles is improving with every game,” said Matthews, “and we were unlucky not to pinch the first set. Paul had a great singles against Borgato to level the score and after going 2-0 up against Falco I think I relaxed a bit too much – I was playing a bit too safe and he changed his game to suit him. Being down in the fifth set was difficult but I kept my nerve and managed to come out on top. It’s a great win as Italy are one of the favourites.”

“I played much better against Borgato,” said Davies. “Our doubles is getting better so we need a good start tomorrow.”

Medals in men’s class 1 will be decided tomorrow and Davies and Matthews play their final two matches against Hungary and top seeds Korea.

Martin Perry and Paul Karabardak World Team champsBritain’s second group match in men’s class 6 was a repeat of the European Championship final in 2015 which they lost to Denmark. Paul Karabardak and Martin Perry lost the doubles 3-1 today but David Wetherill played superbly to beat the Paralympic champion Peter Rosenmeier 3-1 to level the tie and Karabardak then fought back bravely from 2-0 down against Michael Jensen to take the deciding singles 11-3 in the fifth and win the match for his team.

With two wins from two the British team is in pole position but need to beat Chile in their final group match tomorrow to be sure of progressing to the semi-finals.

Billy Shilton and Aaron McKibbin World Team ChampsWith Ross Wilson still hampered by a back injury Aaron McKibbin and Billy Shilton continued to fly the flag for Britain in men’s class 8 and they narrowly lost their final group match to Chinese Taipei. McKibbin and 18 year old Shilton fought back from 2-0 down in the doubles to level at 2-2 but Hu Ming-Fu and Hou Ting-sung took the final set 11-6 to take a 1-0 lead. McKibbin was then edged out by former World number one Hu in the first singles, 12-10 in the fifth.

The result means that Britain do not go through to the knockout stages but will instead play-off for their finishing position in the event starting against Germany tomorrow afternoon.

Posted in GB

Good start for British team on Day 1 of World Team Championships

The British team made a good start to the PTT World Team Championships in Slovakia today with wins in women’s class 4-5, men’s class 1, men’s class 6 and men’s class 8.

Aaron & Billy v SWE World Champs 2With double Paralympic medallist Ross Wilson unable to play due to a back problem, Aaron McKibbin was partnered in men’s class 8 by 18 year old Billy Shilton and they made the perfect start with a 2-0 win against Australia. The pair combined to win the doubles 3-1 and McKibbin secured the tie with a 3-0 win against Nathan Pellissier.

In their second match they faced Sweden and although McKibbin and Shilton started well by taking the first set in the doubles the Paralympic silver medallists Linus Karlsson and Emil Andersson came back to take the next three and establish a 1-0 lead. Shilton played well against Andersson – saving three match points before clinching a tense third set 16-14 – but the former World number one used all his experience to take the match 3-1 and win the tie for Sweden 2-0.

The British team can still progress to the knockout stages if they beat Chinese Taipei in their final group match tomorrow morning.

Sue Gilroy World Champs v SVKSue Gilroy and Megan Shackleton started their challenge in the round-robin women’s class 4-5 with a match against Slovakia and they won the doubles 3-0 before Gilroy recovered from 10-8 down to win the third set 12-10 and complete a 3-0 win over Katarina Dobrovodska. Gilroy and Shackleton play their next match against Chinese Taipei tomorrow.

Paul Karabardak, Martin Perry and David Wetherill also began with a tie against the host nation and were involved in a tough battle. Alexander Nagy and Gabriel Csemy took the doubles 11-9 in the fifth after Karabardak and Wetherill had levelled at 2-2. That left Britain needing to win both of the singles matches and when Karabardak recorded a comfortable 3-0 victory over Nagy it was down to Wetherill to win the deciding match. The 27 year old looked to be in trouble at 2-0 down but fought back tenaciously to beat Csemy 12-10 in the fifth and secure a 2-1 win for his team.

The next group match for the British team will be against European champions Denmark tomorrow afternoon.

It was Britain against Slovakia again in men’s class 1 which is also being played in a round-robin format. Paul Davies and Tom Matthews played together for the first time in Slovenia last week and they lost the doubles today 3-1. Davies kept them in the tie with a 3-0 win against Martin Barbierik and Matthews then won the deciding singles against Marian Kamien 3-1 to give Britain a 2-1 win.

Davies and Matthews play their next match against Italy tomorrow.

Posted in GB

Draw made for World Team Championships

The draw has been made for the inaugural World Team Championships taking place in Slovakia from May 17-20.

World Team Champs logoThe British Para Table Tennis Team is competing in four events – men’s class 1, men’s class 6, men’s class 8 and women’s class 4-5.

Men’s class 1 and women’s class 4-5 are both round-robin events with five teams in each. Paul Davies and Tom Matthews begin at 16:00 tomorrow with a match against the hosts Slovakia while Sue Gilroy and Megan Shackleton also take on Slovakia at 14:15.

In men’s class 6, Paul Karabardak, Martin Perry and David Wetherill have been drawn in a group with European champions Denmark, Chile and Slovakia and play their first match at 14:15 tomorrow against the host nation.

In men’s class 8, Aaron McKibbin, Billy Shilton and Ross Wilson are in a group with Paralympic silver medallists Sweden, Chinese Taipei and Australia. They start with a match against Australia at 09:00 tomorrow.

All times are local – one hour ahead of the UK.

For full details of the draw go to:

British squad for World Team Championships

The British Para Table Tennis Team will compete in four events in the inaugural World Team Championships in Slovakia from May 17-20, the first major championship since the Paralympic Games in Rio last September.

Tom Matthews Slovenia Open 2017 doubles with Paul DaviesThe full squad is Paul Davies and Tom Matthews (men’s class 1), Paul Karabardak, Martin Perry and David Wetherill (men’s class 6), Aaron McKibbin, Billy Shilton and Ross Wilson (men’s class 8), Sue Gilroy MBE and Megan Shackleton (women’s class 4).

The team won medals in men’s class 1, men’s class 8 and women’s class 4 in the Slovenia Open last week but had to withdraw from men’s class 6 following a knee injury to Wetherill in the singles event. Karabardak is due to return to competition after injuring his foot in the team event in Italy in March having won gold in the men’s class 6 singles.

“The competition in Slovakia will be tough,” said BPTT Performance Director Gorazd Vecko, “and we have a mix of youth and experience in our squad. This is an important tournament but we are also looking to the future and for our younger players this will be valuable experience in preparation for the European Championships later this year.”

Posted in GB