GB Team – Jack Hunter-Spivey

Date and place of birth: 11/05/1995

Home town: Liverpool
Lives: Sheffield
Family: Mum Renee, step-father Rob, brother Chris, sister Romana-Dawn
TT Class: 5
Current world ranking: 11
TT Style: all-round attacking
International debut: 2011, Slovakia

 

 

Jack’s Story

When London won the Olympic and Paralympic bid in 2005, 10-year-old Jack was playing table tennis in a youth club and decided that he wanted to play in the Paralympic Games in London. He was invited to his first GB Development camp at the age of 11 and has now been part of the Performance squad for three years. Although he just missed out on selection for London, he experienced the atmosphere of the Games through the Paralympic Inspiration Programme and now has his sights firmly set on Rio in 2016.

“Missing out on selection for London has made me fight even harder,” he says. “It made me realise that it doesn’t just get handed to you. There is a big fire in my belly to get to the Paralympics because it is a massive achievement. When I first started I couldn’t hit the ball because I lacked coordination and I struggled so much learning the technique but I’m getting there.”

Originally from Liverpool and brought up on a council estate in Anfield, Jack was born with cerebral palsy and was blind and deaf until he was nine months old. He discovered his passion for table tennis at an early age. “I was obsessed and just wanted to play all the time,” says Jack. “It is so easy to integrate into able-bodied table tennis and you can’t do that in a lot of other sports.”

Proof that hard work pays off, Jack is the only player ever to win the Junior, Senior and Open British titles in the same year and competes in able-bodied table tennis at the county level as well as competing with the GB Para team. A win against the world number four in the Lignano Master Open in Italy in March 2013 was the start of a successful season for Jack in which he won nine medals, reached his first singles final and represented GB in the European Championships in Italy, performing with great credit on his major championship debut.

In 2014 Jack continued to progress and a number of good results, including a silver medal in the Slovakia Open, took him to a career-high world ranking of nine and earned him a trip to China for the World Championships in September. He acquitted himself well, progressing from his group and playing well against the experienced Korean Kiyoung Kim in the last 16 despite losing 3-1.

“I think I’ve played better but in my first World Championships I’ve had a good performance as a whole and I think I’ve learnt a lot from it as well,” said Jack. “The big goal for me is Rio and that is going to involve a different culture, flying outside Europe and getting used to that and playing in these big pressure environments is really good for me. The results may not have gone my way but hopefully, I’ve done myself justice and it’s been a positive tournament for me.

“As a whole, I’ve had a really good season and hopefully I can kick on and do even better next season. By the end of next season, I need to be in the top eight or thereabouts to make sure I qualify for Rio and that is my focus for 2015. I think I can use the experience I’ve gained at the World Championships to do well in the Europeans and I want to establish myself in the world’s top ten.”

Liverpool fan Jack has inspired his five-year-old sister to start playing table tennis, while his older brother designs computer games. “Mum is so proud of us,” says Jack. “When I first started playing table tennis it was £2.50 a session and I couldn’t go every day as we couldn’t afford it, but now I’m representing my country and my brother is going to work in Japan.”

Take 5 With Jack:

Most admired sportsman – Paul Davies

Place in the world you would most like to visit – Tokyo

Alternative occupation – actor

Your karaoke song – Ice Ice Baby

Superstitions – arranging all my GB kit in order the day before I play

and finally – Jack was an extra in Grange Hill and also appeared in Christmas Lights and the film Millions

2014 Results:

World Championships, Beijing, China – last 16, men’s singles (class 5)
Slovakia Open – silver, men’s singles (class 5)
Slovenia Open – silver, men’s teams (class 5); last 16, men’s singles (class 5)

Career Highlights:

2014: World Championships, Beijing, China – last 16, men’s singles (class 5)
Slovenia Open – silver, men’s teams (class 5)
Slovakia Open – silver, men’s singles (class 5)
2013: US Open – bronze, men’s singles (class 5); gold, men’s teams (class 5)
Belgium Open – silver, men’s singles (class 5)
Czech Open – bronze, men’s singles (class 5); bronze, men’s teams (class 5)
Slovakian Open – bronze men’s singles (class 5); bronze men’s teams (class 5)
Hungarian Open – bronze, men’s singles (class 5); bronze, men’s teams (class 5)
2012: Slovenian Open – gold, men’s teams (class 5)
2011: British Open – bronze, men’s teams (class 5)

Further results are available at:

http://www.ipttc.org/players/men/jack_hunter_spivey/index.htm

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