GB Team - Paul Karabardak


pkarabardakbioDate and place of birth: 03/10/1985, Swansea

Home town: Swansea
Lives: Swansea
Family: Mum Helen, brother Huseyin, nephew Mason
TT Class: 6
Current world ranking: 5
TT Style: all-round
International debut: 2001, Frankfurt

Paul’s story:

Paul was a keen footballer until he suffered a massive stroke at the age of ten and was subsequently introduced to table tennis at a local disabled youth club. “As I could no longer play football I felt lost without sport and bored with nothing to do,” recalls Paul. “My mum found out about a club for disabled people called Friends of the Young Disabled. One day I started playing table tennis and just loved it. I went to a local sports shop and bought a table tennis bat, case and a few balls and started playing three times a week. I enjoy table tennis because it’s great fun, really challenging mentally and physically and it is a sport anyone can enjoy.”

Within two years Paul was playing for the local Swansea League and progressed through the leagues before being selected to play for the GB Para Table Tennis Team at the age of 16 in the European Championships, winning a team bronze medal. He has since represented GB at World Championships and two Paralympic Games, in Beijing 2008 and London 2012.

Although Paul enjoyed being part of ParalympicsGB at London 2012 he admits to being disappointed that he did not progress beyond the group stages of the competition. “London2012 was an amazing experience in terms of the crowds, Paralympic village, venues and competition,” he says, “but in terms of performance I didn’t play anywhere near the standard I can or wanted to. It has inspired me to go to Rio and give a much better performance, which will hopefully lead to a singles medal.”

In 2013 Paul picked up medals in Hungary, Slovenia and Slovakia and represented GB in the European Championships in Italy, taking a bronze in the men’s class 7 teams event with Will Bayley.  He then went to the US Open in San Diego in December and produced his best table tennis of the year to take the gold medal in the men’s class 7 singles, beating former Paralympic champion Mitchell Seidenfeld of the USA in the final, and then combined with Beijing and London Paralympic champion Jochen Wollmert from Germany to win the men’s class 6-7 team event.

“I trained hard for the Europeans and I thought I played really well there,” he says, “but I was disappointed that I didn’t get the results I wanted even though I got a bronze in the teams event. In the US Open it all came together and I managed to play my best table tennis.  In the Europeans I had close matches against top players that didn’t go my way but in San Diego I won the close matches so that has shown me that I can win in the tight situations and I can still compete against the best players in my class.”

In 2014 Paul won team gold in Slovenia and silver in Italy and Slovakia and then achieved one of his ambitions when he combined with Will Bayley to win a bronze medal in the men’s 6-7 team event at the World Championships in China.

“I’d never won a World Championship medal before so it was a great moment for me,” says Paul, “but I think I could have done better in the singles and I’ve still got the desire and hunger to carry on to Rio. I want to go into Rio playing my best table tennis and give myself the best opportunity I can of taking a medal in Rio.”

Paul is in no doubt what sport brings to his life. “It gives you a chance to see the world, make amazing friends and be the absolute best you can be. Our disability is the shackles and chains that imprison us; sport is what sets us free.”

At the start of the 2015 season Paul was reclassified and is now competing as a class 6. He won gold in Hungary and Slovenia and took bronze in the singles and silver in the team event at the European Championships in Denmark.

Take 5 with Paul:

Most admired sportsman - Sir Chris Hoy

Sporting event you would most like a ticket for - Swansea v Cardiff

Three famous people you would most like to have a drink with - The Rock, Johnny Depp, David Beckham

Three words that describe you best- funny, laid-back, quiet

Hobbies - football (Swansea City), movies, walking my dog Tinks, music, TV and playing on my PS3

and finally - Paul’s superstition means he never shaves during a competition

2015 Results:
European Championships, Vejle, Denmark - bronze, men’s singles (class 6); silver, men’s teams (class 6)
Slovakia Open - QF men’s singles (class 6); QF men’s teams (class 6)
Slovenia Open - gold, men’s singles (class 6); QF men’s teams (class 6)
Lignano Master Open, Italy - silver, men’s singles (class 6); 4th men’s teams (class 6)
Hungarian Open - gold, men’s singles (class 6); gold, men’s teams (class 6-7)

2014 Results:
World Championships, Beijing, China - bronze medal, men’s teams (class 6-7); group stages, men’s singles (class 7)
Slovakia Open - silver, men’s teams (class 7); QF men’s singles (class 7)
Slovenia Open - gold, men’s teams (class 7); last 16 men’s singles (class 7)
Lignano Master Open, Italy - silver, men’s teams (class 6-7); group stages, men’s singles (class 7);

Career Highlights:
2015: European Championships, Vejle, Denmark - bronze, men’s singles (class 6); silver, men’s teams (class 6)
Slovenia Open - gold, men’s singles (class 6)
2014: World Championships, Beijing, China - bronze medal, men’s teams (class 6-7)
Slovenia Open - gold, men’s teams (class 7)
2013: US Open, San Diego - gold, men’s singles (class 7); gold, men’s teams (class 6-7)
European Championships, Lignano, Italy - bronze, men’s teams (class 7)
2011: European Championships, Split, Croatia - silver, men’s teams (class 7)
2009: European Championships, Genoa, Italy - bronze, men’s singles (class 7)
2001: European Championships, Frankfurt, Germany - bronze, men’s teams (class 7)

Further results available at: