GB Team – Rob Davies

Date and place of birth: 14/08/84, Abergavenny

Home town: Brecon
Lives: Brecon
Family: Parents Sandra and Charlie, twin brother Rich
TT Class: 1
Current world ranking: 1
TT Style: attacking
International debut: 2007, Ireland

 

 

Rob’s Story

Born and bred in Wales, Rob played semi-professional rugby until a spinal cord injury while playing left him wheelchair-bound at the age of 21. While undergoing rehab at Rookwood Hospital in Cardiff he was encouraged to take up table tennis by Para table tennis international Sara Head, who was doing voluntary work at the hospital.

“I’d always been sporting,” says Rob. “I’d played rugby since I was four years old and never had an injury until then. I’d always seen table tennis as a bit of a girly sport compared to rugby so I wasn’t that helpful, to begin with. My grandparents pushed me and I started training with the guys in Wales and that was it. When I left the hospital I started training two or three times a week.”

In 2007 he became part of the GB Development squad and after taking silver medals in the individual and team events at the European championships in 2011 realised his ambition of competing in the London 2012 Paralympic Games. He admits that London was a massive learning curve and although he enjoyed the experience he was disappointed to come away without a medal.

“I didn’t expect to win a medal as much as I wanted one at a home Games,” he explained at the start of 2013, “and I was pretty gutted for a few months. But the experience was unbelievable and I’m now ready for Rio. It has made me more determined and I’m training so much harder – I’m wiser now. I’m stronger and faster and more positive towards life in general. London has given me a boost and I’m going to push myself a bit more now.”

Rob’s aim for 2013 was to improve his consistency and his world ranking of six and he achieved even more than he had hoped for – becoming European champion, taking gold in the team event as well with fellow Welshman Paul Davies, and replacing Paralympic champion Holger Nikelis as world number one in October.

The 29-year-old was ranked five before the European Championships but defeated Nikelis in the semi-finals on his way to winning gold in the singles, having earlier beaten Jean-Francois Ducay, the world ranked number three Frenchman who had ended his Paralympic dream in the group stages in London 2012.

Rob then reinforced his new status with victory in the Belgium Open, where he defeated Ducay again in the final to prove that his performance at the European Championships was not a fluke.

“It was a brilliant year and I achieved more than I thought I would,” he admits. “Being world number one doesn’t seem real which is probably for the best. Sometimes I reassure myself with it when I’m not feeling very confident but I want to keep working hard and try and stay there.”

Rob began 2014 by taking gold in the singles and team in Slovenia and came back from losing to Ducay in the singles in Slovakia to take gold in the team event with Paul Davies. In the World Championships in China, he showed all his fighting spirit to reach the final of the men’s class 1 singles but had to settle for silver after a 3-1 loss to the Korean Changho Lee.

“I wanted the gold but I’m happy to get silver,” he said. “It was good to get to the final – there are so many good players here and I had a tough draw with some players that are awkward for me to play against so I was quite glad to come through those. You’ve got to take one match at a time and I just wish I had played a bit better in the final and finished it off with a bang but that is sport and that is table tennis. I’ll come back from it and hopefully get the next title.”

Rugby is still a passion of Rob’s and he goes to watch his local side play whenever he can as well as being a keen supporter of the Welsh team. “I still miss it,” he admits. “I do wheelchair rugby now for fun but I wanted a different challenge – rugby is a team sport and I could see table tennis was different and wanted to challenge myself.” Away from the table Rob enjoys weight training and getting out and about in the countryside on his off-road buggy, accompanied by his terrier Roger. One of his biggest fans is his god-daughter Lily who at the age of four was in the crowd in London, along with his parents and twin brother Rich.

Take 5 With Rob:

Most admired sportsman – Jonny Wilkinson

Three famous people, you would most like to have a drink with – Freddie Flintoff, Jonathan Davies, Charlie Sheen

Place in the world you would most like to visit – New Zealand for the rugby culture, amazing scenery and weather

Favourite film – Top Gun

Three words that describe you best- happy, busy, committed

and finally – the sporting event that Rob would most like a ticket for is Wales v England in the Rugby World Cup Final

2014 Results:

World Championships, Beijing, China – silver, men’s singles (class 1)
Slovakia Open – gold men’s teams (class 1); bronze, men’s singles (class 1)
Slovenia Open – gold, men’s singles (class 1); gold, men’s teams (class 1)

Career Highlights:

2014: World Championships, Beijing, China – silver, men’s singles (class 1)
Slovakia Open – gold men’s teams (class 1)
Slovenia Open – gold, men’s singles (class 1); gold, men’s teams (class 1)
2013: Belgium Open – gold, men’s singles (class 1)
European Championships, Lignano, Italy – gold, men’s singles (class 1); gold, men’s teams (class 1)
2012: Slovakian Open – gold, men’s singles (class 1); gold, men’s teams (class 1)
2011: European Championships, Split, Croatia – silver, men’s singles (class 1); silver, men’s teams (class 1)
British Open – gold, men’s singles (class 1)

Further results are available at:

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

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *