Thursday, September 4: We wake up to another warm, sunny day and after an early breakfast the team heads to the hall at 08.30. We have only been allocated two tables in the competition hall so Rob Davies and the standing athletes are in the warm-up hall. It’s a shorter session than usual as the coaches want the athletes to conserve their energy and they will train again this afternoon.
More teams are starting to arrive including the Spanish, the French and the German team who are in unfamiliar bright green; perhaps it is part of their team strategy to dazzle the opposition with the brightness of their shirts as well as the quality of their play.
Training over for the morning the athletes go back to their rooms to rest and Jill the physio’s work begins as she schedules appointments for those that need her expert treatment. Meanwhile the coaches take a taxi to the local shopping mall for a much needed coffee. Quite sad really how the discovery of a Starbucks or Costa can be so exciting when you are far from home and deprived of your daily cappuccino.
After lunch the afternoon training session starts at 14.00. With more athletes now to accommodate the GB team is split between the warm-up hall and the training hall. The temperature outside is now more than 30 degrees and the training hall is also very warm which makes it a tough session for the athletes in there. Our wheelchair players take advantage of some extra time in the competition hall in the next session that starts at 16.00 – every minute of practice on the tables will be valuable.
The Centre for Disability Sport is where the Chinese Para team trains and it seems that everywhere you look there are Chinese players practising with ominous precision. Always such tough opposition, they are going to be even more difficult to beat on their home ground.
Most of the GB players are over their jet-lag now and looking sharp and focused. The sense of determination among the squad is palpable. Three more days to go before the competition starts and now it can’t come soon enough.