Four team medals for GB on last day in Slovenia

The GB Para Table Tennis Team won four medals in the team events on the final day of the ITTF PTT Slovenia Open, taking bronze in men’s class 8, men’s class 6, women’s class 6-7 and women’s class 4. With nearly all of the world’s top players competing in Lasko the GB team’s total of eight medals, including gold medals in the singles for Will Bayley and Rob Davies, is a good indication of where it stands with four months to go to Rio.

Aaron McKibbin and Ross Wilson had reached the semi-finals of men’s class 8 with a battling win in the quarter-finals against Belgium and they faced an even tougher test today against World champions China. Despite a slow start the GB pair took the first game in the doubles 12-10 and after losing the next two played superbly to level at 2-2 before the combined experience of World number two Ye Chao Qun and World number four Zhao Shuai clinched the match 11-9 in the fifth.

Ross Wilson Slovenia 2016Wilson, from Minster in Kent, then made a great start against Zhao, taking the first game against the Paralympic champion who had beaten him so narrowly (3-2) in their last meeting in the semi-finals in London 2012. However, since then Wilson has missed two years of competition due to injury and Zhao came back to win the match 3-1 and take China into the final.

Nevertheless it was a promising performance by Wilson, who is still only 20 years old.

“It would have been nice to get some revenge on him but he is a great player,” he said. “The doubles was an improvement for us - we have definitely come a long way since Italy in February. They are a great team and it is good to know we can compete that well against them in doubles. On another day we could have taken them so it is definitely a positive going forward. I’ve played quite a few matches here and I’m really pleased with how it’s gone. I lost to the World number one and the Paralympic champion and I know what I need to work on back in the training hall. Going into Slovakia next week I’m at a good level so that is good to know.”

Aaron McKibbin ETTA Nationals 2016McKibbin can also be pleased with his progress four months away from the Paralympic Games.

“To play so well against China is a good sign,” said the 24 year old Sheffield based Londoner, “ as they are one of the teams we are going to have to beat to be successful in Rio. We are playing these competitions to prepare ourselves for the major events and we are not far away from them. It gives you confidence when you are losing 11-9 in the fifth - you are disappointed but at the same time you are thinking that in a major event we are really close to them now and we’ve only got to do a couple of things to change that result around.”

Swansea’s Paul Karabardak and 21 year old Martin Perry from Paisley had beaten European champions Denmark on the way to reaching the semi-finals of men’s class 6 but they could not find that form today and lost 2-0 to a combined team of Rungroj Thainiyom, the Paralympic champion and World number three from Thailand and the Italian Raimondo Alecci.

The doubles was close in all four sets but Thainiyom and Alecci took it 3-1 and the experienced Alecci then secured the win for his team by beating Karabardak 3-1.

While Karabardak was bitterly disappointed it was Perry’s first medal at a factor 40 tournament and a good result for a relatively new partnership.

Martin Perry France 2“Doubles today was tough,” said Perry. “They have a lot of experience in that team including the Paralympic champion and they’ve got some really awkward styles to play against but regardless of that I thought that Paul and I played some really good table tennis at times. We won one set and were tight in the others so it is something we can definitely learn from. Moving forward we are only going to get stronger. This is my first factor 40 medal and it’s my birthday tomorrow so I’m going to call it my birthday bronze.”

The teenage partnership of GB’s 17 year old Megan Shackleton and 18 year old Sandra Mikolaschek from Germany had a tough semi-final in women’s class 4 against the World team champions from Serbia and at 0-7 in the first game of the doubles they looked to be heading for a quick defeat. However, they fought back to 8-8 and despite losing the first game 9-11 they played really well as a partnership - taking the second game 11-8 and finally losing 17-19 in the fourth.

Mikolaschek, the World number four, took the first game against World number two Borislava Peric-Rankovic 11-9 but the European champion and former World number one used all her experience to take the match 3-1 and take Serbia into the final.

Megan Shackleton April 2014 1Shackleton, from Todmorden, has had a good tournament and is a great prospect for the future.

“I’m really pleased,” she said, “because we have never played as a team before and they are the World champions so to push them as much as we did is an achievement in itself. We didn’t start well and the best way we were going to come back was to take the pressure off completely and just try new things while we had the opportunity and that definitely worked in our favour in some respects. I’m really pleased to come away with a bronze medal especially in Paralympic year when all the teams are here and getting ready for the Games so that was a big eye-opener for me as well. I’ve had a really good tournament and I’m starting to play positively and confidently and I want to continue that and maybe just work on a few more technical things to bring to my game next time.”

Felicity Pickard is another talented young player and in women’s class 6-7 she was teamed for the first time with Yuliya Klymenko, the World number five and former European champion from Ukraine. In their semi-final they took on a strong Russian team of Raisa Chebanika , the class 6 Paralympic champion and World number two and Victoriya Safonova, the former class 7 World number one.

Felicity Pickard action 5 2014Despite losing the doubles 0-3 the GB/Ukraine partnership played well and Pickard, a class 6 player, was also far from disgraced despite a 0-3 loss in the singles to Safonova and can be very proud of her bronze medal.

“It is definitely great experience to play matches like this,” said the 21 year old from Burnley, “and they are a very strong team but I felt that I managed to compete with them and play some good stuff. I know that if I go out with a positive attitude and more confidence then I can dictate the game more rather than being worried about their position and looking at World rankings. I feel that if I do that and I get stronger then maybe I can dominate them a bit more and get the wins. I didn’t expect to get a medal here but it was a good win yesterday and I played well so it’s good that the hard work is paying off.”

In the round-robin women’s class 3 event London 2012 bronze medalists Jane Campbell and Sara Head lost their third match to a combination of World number six Michela Brunelli from Italy and the world number seven Alena Kanova from Slovakia 0-2, Campbell finding former Paralympic, World & European champion Kanova in good form in a 1-3 singles loss after the GB pair had lost the opening doubles by the same score.

Jane Campbell & Sara Head doubles Vejle 2015 3That meant they needed to win their final match against the combined team from Thailand and Japan to have a chance of a medal. The GB pair won the doubles 3-0 against World number 10 Dararat Asayut and Yukimi Chada before Head came through against Chada 3-2 in the first singles to secure the win for GB.

“It was disappointing to lose the match this morning,” said Campbell, “and it is always hard to pick yourself up after a loss but we did it. I think it was just grit and determination that got us through. Our doubles is coming together so that is a positive to focus on for Slovakia next week and also for Rio.”

“It was hard and I had to really focus,” admitted Head after her narrow win against Chada. “It has been a tough couple of days and I had to pull all my energy together to pull that win out of the bag so I’m happy with that. We were thrilled to beat Croatia here - they are European champions and we got close to them in Italy and we beat them here so we need to keep working on what we are doing and look forward to competing against them in Rio.”

Unbeaten China took the gold and with three teams level on two wins each the medals were decided on countback. Croatia took silver and Italy/Slovakia the bronze leaving the GB pair in fourth place.

GB Performance Director Gorazd Vecko was very satisfied with his team’s performance: “I think we must be really happy with the tournament. This is like a small Rio Games before the Paralympics in September. We had 90% of the top players here who will compete in Rio and in some classes we had all the top players here - like in men’s class 7 where Will Bayley took the gold medal. It was also a great achievement to have an all GB final in men’s class 1 with Rob Davies and Paul Davies.

“To take four singles medals and one team medal in a class that is a Paralympic event (men’s class 8) - that is a big success for us. It is also good to know that we can beat all the top players, for example Kim Daybell beating the top Chinese player in men’s class 10. This is showing me where we are and what we need to do for the next four months and it is good to know we are on the right track.”

Posted in GB

GB team assured of team medals in Slovenia

On a dramatic day at the Slovenia Open in Lasko four GB teams have made it through to tomorrow’s semi-finals against some of the best teams in the world.

In men’s class 8 Will Bayley, Aaron McKibbin and Ross Wilson were playing together for the first time since they won a memorable bronze medal in London 2012, but class 7 World champion Bayley was left on the bench as they began with a 2-0 win against a strong Hungarian team of men’s class 8 European silver medalist Gyula Zborai and European bronze medalist Andras Csonka. McKibbin and Wilson gave their team the perfect start with a 3-0 win in the doubles and Wilson then clinched the tie with a determined 3-2 win against World number 6 Csonka.

Aaron McKibbin & Ross Wilson doubles Vejle 2015In their second match against Russia McKibbin and Wilson made a good start in winning the doubles 3-0 but when McKibbin lost a close match to the talented 17 year old Artem Iakovlev 2-3 it meant that Wilson needed to beat Aleksei Saunin in the deciding singles. The 20 year old survived a fight back from the Russian in the third game to win the match 3-1 and take GB into a quarter-final against Belgium.

Marc Ledoux and former Paralympic champion Mathieu Loicq are a very experienced team and they used all that experience to win the doubles 3-1 which left GB needing to win both singles. Wilson showed great character to come through against Loicq 11-8 in the fifth and McKibbin took his team into the semi-finals with a 3-0 win against Ledoux.

“The Belgians have been playing doubles together for a long time,” said Wilson, “and it is always hard to play teams like that. Going into the singles on the back of losing the doubles is quite difficult - it’s quite hard to pick yourself back up straightaway but I think where I’ve improved is now I can do that and I can just grind wins out. So it is really nice to know that even when I’m not playing my best I can still get the wins sometimes. I think we play China in the semi tomorrow but no matter who we’ve got it’s great experience for Rio and we’ll give it our best shot.”

“I wanted to do my bit for the team,” said McKibbin, “because I felt I let them down in the last game against Russia losing my singles, but it made me more determined to go out there and prove to myself that it was a one-off mistake and I could put it right and thankfully I did. We come here to play these sort of matches before Rio - we haven’t played China since 2011 and it is always a big game and we’re really looking forward to it. It will be exciting.”

In men’s class 6 Paul Karabardak and Martin Perry began with a great win against European champions Denmark, combining really well to win the doubles 3-2 before Karabardak defeated Michael Jensen 3-0 in the first singles to win the tie for GB 2-0.

They followed that up with a 2-0 win against the Spanish/Irish partnership of Alberto Seoane and Des Ryan to progress to tomorrow’s semi-finals as group winners.

Paul Karabardak Vejle 2015 6“It was good to beat Denmark,” said Karabardak. “They are a top side and the European champions and it was crucial to beat them and win the group so we get a better draw in the semi-finals. Martin and I played well and in the second match we kept our focus which was good as sometimes you lose that after such a good win, but we were professional and got the job done.”

Martin Perry France 4“With the new format playing doubles first puts a lot of emphasis on it,” said Perry, “so we were under a lot of pressure to win the doubles going into the match against Denmark. I thought Paul and I played really well - we played some very clever table tennis at times and dug deep when we had to so it was great to get a win over the European champions.”

In women’s class 4, 17 year old Megan Shackleton and her German partner Sandra Mikolaschek had a tough start against China but they competed well in the doubles against Paralympic champion Zhou Ying and World champion Zhang Miao in a 1-3 loss. Zhou then won the tie for China with a 3-1 win against Mikolaschek.

They then needed to beat Serbia 2 to progress from the group and after combining with Mikolaschek to win the doubles 3-0 Shackleton put up a great performBayreuth Open 2015 Internationales Tischtennis Weltranglistentuance to beat Zorica Popadic, the World team gold medalist, 3-1, and take her team through to tomorrow’s semi-finals.

“I’m really pleased with that because I’ve been waiting for that first big win for a while now,” said Shackleton. “It’s nice to see that everything I’ve been doing in training is finally coming through and I’m now starting to really compete with these players and cause a few upsets.”

Felicity Pickard is partnering former class 6 European champion Yuliya Klymenko from Ukraine in the women’s class 6-7 team event and they also had a tough first match against the class 7 World number one Kelly Van Zon from the Netherlands and World number two Kubra Korkut from Turkey. They competed well in the doubles, losing in three close sets, and 21 year old Pickard, a class 6 player, then played really well against Van Zon - the Paralympic, World and European champion - despite a 3-0 loss.

Although playing together here for the first time Pickard and Klymenko have formed a good partnership and they produced some great play to win the doubles 3-2 against their next opponents Russia2. Klymenko then beat Svetlana Nesterenko 3-0 to take them through to the semi-finals.

Felicity Pickard action 6 2014“I got a lot of confidence from this morning,” said Pickard, “because even though it was a tough match I felt that I played well. I just wanted to carry that on and be aggressive and positive and I feel that I did that well. We seem to click in the doubles a lot more than some other partnerships I’ve had in the past. We seem to be able to move well together so it is a good partnership and obviously she is a top player. We play Russia1 in the semi and I can’t wait. I’m up for it and let’s see what happens.”

In men’s class 10, 23 year old Kim Daybell and Ashley Facey Thompson, 21, faced Paralympic champions China in their first match. The combined experience of class 9 World number one Ma Lin and class 10 World number seven Lian Hao took the doubles 3-0 and although Daybell fought hard against Ma in the first singles the World and Paralympic champion took the match 3-1 to win the tie for China 2-0.

Daybell and Facey Thompson then had to beat a combined team from Thailand and Japan and recovered from dropping the opening game in the doubles to win it 3-1 before Daybell won the tie with a 3-0 win against Bunpot Sillapakong.

Ashley Facey Thompson and Kim Daybell doubles Vejle 2015That took the young GB pair into a quarter-final against the very experienced Spanish team of former World champion Jose Ruiz and class 9 World number five Juan Perez and they played a superb match to win the doubles 3-0. Daybell then outplayed Ruiz for two and a half games before the class 10 World number five’s experience came to the fore and he recovered to win the match 3-2.

Facey Thompson also showed his potential by taking the first two games against Perez before being edged out 11-8 in the fifth but both he and Daybell can be very proud of the way they played and will certainly learn from the experience.

“Against Ruiz the third game was crucial,” admitted Daybell. “His coach called a really good time out when I was up 7-4 and he (Ruiz) has been around for a long time and played a lot of matches and he used that experience. It’s a shame that I couldn’t quite cross the line as I was playing really well and I felt that I was the better player but credit to him he dug in and made life very difficult for me. My level is there - it just needs a few little tweaks and I’ll be winning those matches instead of losing them.”

“We felt we had nothing to lose in the doubles and we were really up for it,” said Facey Thompson. “I played well at the start of my singles but I think the score got to me a bit - I knew I was up and beating a top player but I couldn’t execute the finish but I’m proud of how I played as well. I still thought I could win in the fifth game but his experience showed and he was the better player at the end of the match. I feel that I can compete with the top players now so I will try to push on from here and see what I can do in Slovakia next week.”

Women’s class 3 is being played in a round-robin format and London 2012 medalists Jane Campbell and Sara Head took on the World and Paralympic team champions from China in their second match. Despite a 0-3 loss in the doubles the GB pair competed well towards the end and although Campbell lost 0-3 to World champion Li Qian the score in the final game was 11-13.

“At the end of the singles against Li I gathered myself together and gave it a go,” said Campbell, “and I felt happier about that. In the doubles we were also competitive in the last game so we just need to start out the way we finished because if we had started out with that determination and confidence then it would have gone a lot better than it did.”

The pair can take confidence from a great win yesterday against Croatia and can still take a medal.

“We put a lot of effort into the doubles against Croatia,” said Head, “and for us to win that together made me more determined to try and finish it off in my singles and I’m happy that we did. We have two matches tomorrow so still all to play for and we’re looking forward to them.”

Jack Hunter-Spivey and regular team partner Tommy Urhaug from Norway made the perfect start in men’s class 5 with a 2-0 win against Chinese Taipei. The pair had to come back from 2-1 down to win the doubles 11-4 in the fifth and 20 year old Hunter-Spivey then won the first singles against Wen-hsin Lin 3-0 to secure the tie.

Jack Hunter-Spivey & Tommy Urhaug Slovenia 2014After winning the doubles with Hunter-Spivey, Urhaug took the first singles match against Alexandre Delarque to secure a 2-0 win against a combined team from France and Thailand which took them into the quarter-final to play the second Turkish team. After losing the doubles they went out of the competition after Urhaug lost a close match against Ali Ozturk 2-3.

“We’ve had some good results this tournament and Tommy and I are getting stronger all the time as a team,” said Hunter-Spivey.  “I didn’t play my best in the doubles against Turkey but that is the way it goes sometimes. We got beat fair and square and they were the better team on the day. I feel that the stuff I’m doing in training is definitely coming through in my match play and I’m looking forward to playing all the best players and I know I can compete with them. I just want to go on to Slovakia now and see if I can do that.”

After losing their opening match in men’s class 8 yesterday against China, 17 year old Billy Shilton and his Brazilian partner Luiz Guarnieri Manara had to beat Ukraine 2 to progress into the quarter-finals but after losing the doubles 0-3 a 0-3 loss for Shilton against European team gold medalist Ivan Mai put them out of the competition.

Nevertheless Shilton can look forward to the Slovakia Open next week.

“I think I’ve played a lot more positively than in previous competitions this season,” he said. “I have a bit more belief in myself that I can take some of the top players and it showed in my matches so overall it’s been a good competition for me. “

Winning start to team event for Campbell and Head

Jane Campbell & Sara Head doubles Vejle 2015 3London 2012 bronze medallists Jane Campbell and Sara Head began their bid for a medal in the women’s class 3 team event at the Slovenia Open with a 2-0 win against European champions Croatia. The GB pair combined to win a tight doubles match 11-8 in the fifth and Head then won the tie with a 3-0 defeat of Helena Dretar Karic.

Will Bayley, Aaron McKibbin and Ross Wilson are playing team event together for the first time since winning bronze in men’s class 6-8 in London 2012 and they made a winning start against a combined team from Italy and Thailand.

McKibbin and Wilson won the doubles and McKibbin then secured a 2-0 win for his team with a 3-1 win over the Italian Samuel De Chiara in the first singles.

Billy Shilton and his Brazilian team partner lost their opening match to the formidable Chinese team of Ye Chao Qun and Zhao Shuai 0-2 but 17 year old Shilton won some good points in his singles match against World number four Zhao despite a 3-0 loss.

In women’s class 4 Megan Shackleton and her German partner Sandra Mikolaschek had a comfortable 2-0 win in their opening match against a combined team from Croatia and the Czech Republic.

Jack Hunter-Spivey and his partner Tommy Urhaug from Norway also started with a 2-0 win in men’s class 5 against Argentina. The pair combined to win the doubles 3-0 and Paralympic champion Urhaug clinched the tie with a 3-0 win over Mauro Depergola.

The team event continues tomorrow.

Posted in GB

Gold for Bayley and Davies in Slovenia

The GB Para Table Tennis team’s two World number ones Will Bayley (men’s class 7) and Rob Davies (men’s class 1) both took gold today in the singles at the ITTF PTT Slovenia Open to lay down a significant marker ahead of the Paralympic Games in September. London 2012 bronze medallist Paul Davies completed a stunning comeback after two years out through injury to take silver in men’s class 1 and Kim Daybell took bronze in men’s class 10.

Sheffield based Bayley played superbly to beat the World number two Maksym Nikolenko in the final 3-1, having earlier avenged his defeat by Jordi Morales in February’s Italian Open, beating the Spaniard 3-2 in a tense quarter-final, and then defeated the World number four Mykhaylo Popov 3-0 in the semi-finals.

Will Bayley Vejle 2015“I’m massively thrilled because it has been a lot of hard work,” said the 28 year old from Tunbridge Wells. “There were definitely times that maybe people doubted me but I stuck to what I know best and have worked as hard as I can and it’s starting to pay off. But it’s not done yet - I still need to push on now and improve even more but it’s a good marker at the moment to where I am.

“Morales is a very clever player and makes it really difficult for me to play my natural game so it’s mentally tough to play him as well. I felt that once I got through that game I could win the tournament. I had a game plan against Nikolenko - he’s so strong and hits the ball so hard. I had to find a way to stop him doing that and I found it today and I felt pretty much on top of him throughout the match so it was one of my best performances against him for sure.”

Rob Davies came through his quarter-final against Silvio Keller from Switzerland 3-1 and played a great match to beat the Paralympic champion Holger Nikelis 3-0 in the semi-finals. In a repeat of the all GB European Championships final in 2013 he survived a spirited fightback by his fellow Welshman Paul Davies to win the match 3-1 and take the gold.

Rob Davies Vejle 2015 2“I am really happy,” said the 31 year old from Brecon. “At the start of the competition I really wanted to get to the final and I did that and when I saw that Paul was in the final as well it was a bit surreal. I was so pleased for him after he has been away for two years and to come back and play like that and get to the final is unbelievable.

“I’m really chuffed with the way I played against Holger in the semi-final.  I’ve got a lot of respect for him - he is the Paralympic champion and the guy I wanted to emulate when I first started playing table tennis. So I was chuffed to beat him and to beat him 3-0 puts down a marker and I want to do the same in Slovakia next week if I can. It’s a big boost - I can play better than I have here I know that but I guess Rio is the time to do it.”

It was a remarkable performance by Paul Davies - beating the World number two Jean-Francois Ducay 3-1 to reach the final after such a long absence.

Paul Davies action 7 2014“I’m over the moon - it’s like a fairytale,” said the 49 year old from North Cornelly. “I didn’t think I would get out of my group so I’m overwhelmed.  I tried to stop him (Rob Davies) but he is another class act - he is on top of his game and the best of luck to him. I’ve got another four months to train before Rio so you never know but he deserves it - he was the better player on the day and he’s World number one for a reason. But for me to beat the World number two and play the World number one in the final after 22 months away is not a bad achievement for an old guy.”

Leeds University medical student Daybell looked to be heading for the final of men’s class 10 when he took a deserved 2-0 lead against the World number seven Lian Hao but the Chinese player worked his way back into the match and eventually clinched it 11-8 in the fifth.

Kim Daybell France 2“From 2-0 up I was in a strong position and then he changed the way he played,” said a clearly disappointed Daybell afterwards. “ It’s exactly the same as what happened in London against the same player - I was 2-0 up and he changed his tactics and to be fair he played well to come back. I think overall I’ve played a good singles competition - it’s a shame I couldn’t have won that match but by having a good win in my group (against Chinese World number three Ge Yang) I’ve shown that I’m definitely competing with the best players in the world and it’s a good stepping stone towards Rio.”

In men’s class 8 Ross Wilson came through his last 16 match 3-0 against the 17 year old Russian Artem Iakovlev, who had beaten World number five Piotr Grudzien 3-0 in the group stages, and his reward was a quarter-final against the World number one and World champion Viktor Didukh. The Ukrainian was in top form and won in three sets but the 20 year old from Minster is still a work in progress and is improving all the time.

“I’ve had a good singles competition,” said Wilson. “I’m going to learn from this and come back stronger next time. You can always think you could have done something different but I’m just going to try and figure out his (Didukh’s) game a bit more and I’ll be able to do that in training - go back and watch the videos and learn from it.

Aaron McKibbin also won his last 16 match, coming back from losing the first game against Marcin Skrzynecki from Poland, the former European champion and World and Paralympic team gold medalist, before clinching the win 12-10 in the fourth. He paid the penalty for a poor start in his quarter final against Emil Andersson and although McKibbin fought his way back into the match the Swedish World number seven took it 11-8 in the fourth.

“I had a really bad start to the match,” admitted the 24 year old Londoner, “and he really got on top of me. It took me too long to get going and against a player like that you can’t really afford to do that. The last two sets I felt I was into the game and the better player but I knew it was going to be tough as he’s a top player. It was just disappointing to have had such a bad start to the game. If I could have started earlier it could have been a different result.”

Wilson and McKibbin can now look forward to playing in the team event with Bayley for the first time since they took the bronze in London 2012.

Billy Shilton was up against Richard Csejtey, the former World champion and World number nine in his last 16 match and it was the Slovakian’s experience that proved decisive although the 17 year old can be proud of the way he fought back from 2-0 down to take the third game 14-12 before Csejtey secured the win 11-8 in the fourth.

“I think I played very well,” said Shilton, “and to be honest he was just better than me today. I really struggled with his serves. It would have been tighter if I could have returned his serves a bit better but apart from that it was really good. I was 9-5 up in the third so I was a bit nervous when he got back to 10-10 but I actually kept my head and won the set. After that it was anyone’s match and it was just towards the end that I struggled a bit. Apart from that I played well.”

Jack Hunter-Spivey 1In men’s class 5 Jack Hunter-Spivey pushed the World number one from China Cao Ningning all the way in his quarter-final, taking the third game 14-12 before eventually losing 11-7 in the fourth.

“I played a good game against him,” said the 20 year old, “and it was good experience for Rio because I haven’t played against him many times and he has a very different style. His service is really good so to get practice against that is invaluable for me - I’m trying to do what I’ve been working on in training and it is paying off. I’m fighting for every point and that is all I can do at the moment. I’m feeling really positive about the way I’m playing. I’m not playing my absolute best which is a good place to be with Rio four months away so I’m feeling really good.”

David Wetherill came through his last 16 match against Raimondo Alecci 3-0 but never really got into the match in his quarter-final against Peter Rosenmeier, losing 3-0 to the Danish World number two.

“It was one of those games,” said Wetherill. “I was fighting but I didn’t have it today.”

Paul Karabardak made a good start in his last 16 match against Pavao Jozic from Croatia but was beaten 3-2 by the 21 year old European team bronze medalist.

“He played some good stuff,” said the 30 year old Welshman. “I thought I played quite good but he played better towards the end of the fifth set and deserved to win the game in the end. I missed the consistency to play well for long periods today - I was only playing well for a few points at a time so I think inconsistency has cost me the match. Hopefully I can produce my best in the team event.”

Sara Head was outplayed in her quarter-final by the Chinese World number four Xue Juan but can take plenty of positives from her performance in the singles here.

“It was a tough draw,” she admitted. “She is a brilliant player. I enjoyed the match and learnt some new things and I’ll take those away and try again. I’ve played both Chinese players so at least that’s a good thing ahead of the team event.”

Ashley Facey Thompson lost his last 16 match to the World number five Juan Perez Gonzalez from Spain 3-0.

“With nearly all the world’s top players competing here, to take four medals in the singles including two gold medals shows that we are on track for Rio,” said GB Performance Director Gorazd Vecko.

The competition continues with the team event that concludes on Saturday.

Posted in GB

Good first day for GB Team in Slovenia

On the first day of the ITTF PTT Slovenia Open in Lasko 12 out of 16 GB players progressed from their groups to tomorrow’s knockout stages of the singles including World champion Will Bayley and European champion Rob Davies.

There were great wins for Kim Daybell against the Chinese World number three and former World and Paralympic champion Ge Yang, Ross Wilson against former European champion Emil Andersson, 17 year old Billy Shilton against European silver medalist Gyula Zborai and a winning return to competitive action for London 2012 bronze medallist Paul Davies after two years out through injury.

BAYLEY (8) Slovenia 2015Bayley was involved in a tough first set against Chalermpong Punpoo from Thailand and did well to win it 16-14 before taking the next two sets 11-8 for a 3-0 win. He looked much sharper against Katsuyoshi Yagi and beat the Japanese player 3-0 to ensure that he topped his group and received a bye into tomorrow’s quarter-finals.

“It was a tough first match,” admitted the 28 year old World number one. “I’ve trained really hard for this competition and I think it was a bit of anticipation and trying to get that first win under my belt. I’m starting to feel that I’m into the tournament now and I’m a bit more relaxed. I think I played really well in the second match because he is a tricky opponent and has had some good wins. I knew I had to be playing a lot better than I did in the first match which I think helped me mentally going into that one, knowing that I had to up my game, so it was a much better performance.”

Rob Davies Vejle 2015Rob Davies recovered from 7-4 down in the first game against the Croatian Daniel Lazov to win 3-0 and then faced his old rival Endre Major from Hungary. The pair have had some great matches in the past but although Major rallied in the third game it was Davies who took it 14-12 to take the match 3-0.

“Really happy with the way I played and I quite surprised myself,” said the World number one from Brecon. “I’m playing with freedom and enjoying it. I played really well against Major although the last game was a bit dodgy but I was glad to get through it 3-0 - you can’t ask for any more than that so I’m really happy. I like the hall and the conditions here. I’m playing my game so I’ll try and keep it going tomorrow.”

Paul Davies action 3 2014In his first competition for two years Paul Davies showed all his old fighting spirit to come back from 2-1 down against the talented Federico Falco to beat the Italian 3-2 and followed that with another battling 3-2 win against Aloisio Lima Junior from Brazil. A 3-0 win in his final match against Sung Joo Park from Korea ensured that he progressed to the knockout stages as group winner - a great performance after such a long absence.

“It’s brilliant to be back,” said the 49 year old from North Cornelly. “It was a bit of a weird day for me as I didn’t really expect to get as far as I did. I’m glad I had the wins but they were some very tight matches. You can’t underestimate these new guys I haven’t seen for two years - they have developed more in that time. After only six weeks of training it’s not a bad result. It’s the old dog in Paul Davies - the experience, keeping my mind focused. It’s never over ‘til it’s over as they say.”

Kim Daybell Vejle 2015 6Daybell, 23, has taken a year off from his medical studies at Leeds University to prepare for Rio and he showed the benefit of training full time with an impressive 3-0 win against the in-form European bronze medalist Filip Radovic, the talented teenager from Montenegro who won the Italian Open in February. In his second match against Ge he showed great determination and tactical awareness to come from 2-1 down and win the match 11-7 in the fifth.

“That would have to go down as the best win of my career,” said Daybell. “Mat (coach Mat Kenny) got it tactically spot on and was able to pick out his weaknesses - we had a game plan going in and I was happy that I was able to execute it.  I lost to Radovic 3-0 in Italy so to come through that 3-0 was really big mentally for me. He’s a young guy and gets in your face and it is always difficult to play against those sort of players so I was pleased to win that 3-0 and I’ll do my best to carry it on.”

Ross Wilson Vejle 2015 11Wilson began with a comfortable 3-0 win over Barak Mizrachi from Australia and then faced World number seven Andersson from Sweden, who had beaten him twice in Italy in February. At 1-2 and 4-2 down in the fourth a time out from coach Greg Baker worked wonders and Wilson took the game 11-5 to level at 2-2 and went on to take the fifth 11-6 and the match 3-2. He completed his day’s work with a 3-0 win against Parinya Chuaigate Keereerut from Thailand to go through to the knockout stages as group winner.

“Coming in to this competition I knew I needed a top 10 win,” said the 20 year old, “because I haven’t really been feeling that I am there yet but after today I think I have showed that I can play at that level and proved it to myself as well. So I’m going in positive for the rest of the competition and it’s a great feeling. Emil and I have had a lot of good matches and he’s a great player so it really did go well for me today and I’m really happy that I managed to get the result.”

Billy Shilton Vejle 2015 8Billy Shilton lost his first match 3-0 to the World number four Zhao Shuai from China and then received a walkover against Panupong Santaya from Thailand. At 0-1 and 2-6 he looked to be heading for defeat against Zborai from Hungary but came back superbly to win the second 11-9 and went on to win the match 11-9 in the fifth.

“There was definitely a lack of self-belief at the start of that match,” said Shilton, “but my coach Shaun (Marples) really picked me up and motivated me and from then I was really confident that I could do the job and I did so I’m really happy. Obviously I haven’t been playing in class 8 for very long so to get a win like that is great for my confidence and hopefully I can push on now in the knockout stages tomorrow.”

Also through to the knockout stages are Aaron McKibbin (men’s class 8), Jack Hunter-Spivey (men’s class 5), Paul Karabardak (men’s class 6), David Wetherill (men’s class 6), Ashley Facey Thompson (men’s class 9) and Sara Head (women’s class 3).

MC KIBBIN AaronMcKibbin made a good start in beating Aleksei Saunin from Russia 3-1 but a 3-1 loss to the World number six Andras Csonka from Hungary left him needing to beat Max Van Amerongen from the Netherlands to progress. After a slow start the 24 year old Londoner showed great character to fight back and win 11-9 in the fourth.

“I’m happy to win,” said McKibbin. “He’s a player I’ve played a number of times and it is always tighter than I’d like it to be. I found myself in a bad situation in the first set and lost it and when I was down in the second I felt it wasn’t going my way and I had to find some way to change it. Thankfully I did and nicked the second and I built in confidence after that. In Rio every match is going to be hard so it is good to win those games and I just want to keep on improving, take these wins and build on them.”

HUNTER SPIVEY JackHunter-Spivey took his first match 3-0 against Wira Chiaochan from Thailand but had to fight hard to clinch the win 14-12 in the third. He then took on the World champion Valentin Baus from Germany and led 2-1 before the World number three came back to win the match 11-9 in the fifth. The 20 year old from Liverpool showed his improvement by securing a vital 3-0 win in his final match against Claudiomiro Segatto from Brazil.

“It was disappointing to lose to Baus in the final set but I came out with a lot of positives,” he said. “I feel that everything in training is working and I can compete with the best players in the world and I’m feeling really good at the moment. To beat Segatto is a good win for me and to do it 3-0 is even better.”

KARABARDAK PaulKarabardak began with a 3-0 win over Matias Pino Lorca from Chile 3-0 but then found Alberto Seoane Alcazar in top form and the Spaniard resisted a spirited fightback from the Welshman to win the match 16-14 in the fourth. Karabardak secured his place in the knockout stages with a 3-0 win against Des Ryan from Ireland.

“It’s been a tough day but I’m glad that I’ve been able to make it through my group,” said the 30 year old from Swansea. “I played OK today although not my best but credit to Seoane he played really well. Just that little bit of good play at the end of each set has cost me but hopefully I can play a bit better tomorrow and try and do as well as I can.”

David Wetherill Vejle 2015 4Wetherill, 26, showed his fighting spirit to recover from 2-0 down to beat Vjekoslav Gregorovic from Croatia 3-2 in his first match. He lost another five set battle against Thomas Rau from Germany but progressed to the knockout stages with a 3-0 win against Thanapong Dulayaanukij from Thailand.

“I played OK today,” he said. “You win some you lose some but the main thing is that Paul (Karabardak) and I are through to the knockout stages and I don’t think it makes much difference whether you win the group or not when the standard of the competition is as strong as it is. I think you just have to play each game as it comes and no matter who you play it is going to be a tough game. Tomorrow is another day and we are both still in it so hopefully we can do as well as we can.”

Ashley Facey Thompson action 5 2014Facey Thompson started well against Iurii Nozdrunov, taking the first game 11-9 but the Russian World number two took the next three games 11-8 for a 3-1 win. The 21 year old London South Bank University student needed to win his second match against Pawel Konstantyn from Poland and despite falling 5-1 behind in the first game he came back to take it 14-12 and went on to secure a 3-0 win and his place in the knockout stages.

“I started slowly but then I played well and moved much better,” said Facey Thompson. “He’s a good player and I did well to come through. I enjoyed the match against Nozdrunov - we both came off smiling and although I lost he praised me and said I was getting better which from the World number two is inspiring. Hopefully I can push on tomorrow and do better.”

In women’s class 3 Jane Campbell and Sara Head could not have had tougher first matches - Campbell against World number one and Paralympic champion Anna-carin Ahlquist from Sweden and Head against World champion and World number two Li Qian from China.

Sara Head Nat Champs 2015Head came back from a 3-0 loss to Li to beat World number ten Dararat Asayut from Thailand 3-1 and take the second qualifying place in her group.

“It is always hard to come back from losing your first match 3-0,” said the 36 year old from Beddau, “but it also gave me more determination and made me think, what could I do, what can I improve and how can I prepare? So I can thank Li for making me work harder. I’m very much looking forward to tomorrow. It’s been a while since I’ve been in the knockout stages due to my health so to have beaten a player I’ve not played before who is ranked number ten I’m thrilled. I’m going to enjoy that tonight and prepare hard in the morning.”

Campbell also lost 3-0 to Ahlquist and fought hard against Hatice Duman in her second match but the Turkish player was just too strong in a 3-1 win.

“It was a very tough draw,” said Campbell. “I felt competitive and I’m sure when I reflect on the day I’ll come up with a plan to try and win those matches.”

Teenager Megan Shackleton showed her potential in winning the first game against the World number four Sandra Mikolaschek but the German came back strongly to win 3-1. A 3-0 win against Spomenka Hrabetinkova from the Czech Republic gave her a chance of progressing from her group but she needed to beat Nada Matic from Serbia in her final match and the greater experience of the World number six prevailed 3-1.

“I’ve taken a lot of positives that everything I’ve been working on in training I’m finally being able to put into place in matches,” said the 17 year old from Todmorden. “I’m starting to feel that I’m becoming the player that I want to be.”

Felicity Pickard had pushed the World number two Raisa Chebanika all the way in a 3-2 loss in the Italian Open in February and the Russian was taking no chances today in a 3-0 win. The 21 year old from Burnley battled back from losing the first two sets against Yuliya Klymenko from Ukraine to take the third 11-5 but the World number five clinched the match 11-9 in the fourth.

“I’m pleased with the way I reacted after a poor performance this morning,” said Pickard. “I‘m happy that I came back fighting. I wasn’t playing my best but I gave it everything and that is a positive - to be able to dig deep when it is not going well.”

Paisley’s Martin Perry played well in a 3-0 loss to Paralympic champion Rungroj Thainiyom from Thailand and then found the experienced Raimondo Alecci in top form and the Italian took the match 3-0.

“Ever since I moved down to Sheffield my game has been improving all the time,” said the 21 year old, “and to have two really close sets against the Paralympic champion is obviously a confidence booster. Knowing that I’m still learning the game and I’m still trying to develop my own game gives me the confidence going forward that I’m going to have chances against top players.”

Posted in GB

Pickard and Shilton receive Backing the Best awards

Two of the GB Para Table Tennis Team’s most promising young players, Felicity Pickard, 21, and 17 year old Billy Shilton, have been selected to receive one of Sport England’s new Backing The Best awards – bursaries of up to £5,000 per year to help cover expensive costs such as travel, accommodation, nutrition and medical bills.

SportsAid, the charity which helps the next generation of British sports stars by giving them financial support and recognition during the critical early stages of their careers, is delivering the scheme which was launched after a new study, carried out by Leeds Beckett University, showed the rising cost of becoming a sports star has led to some of England’s best up-and-coming talent dropping out.

Felicity Pickard action 6 2014Born with cerebral palsy, Felicity started playing table tennis in 2010 when she wanted to find a sport she could play competitively.  She made her international debut at the Czech Open in 2011 and represented GB at the European Championships in 2013. In 2014, Felicity took a break from international competition to focus on her training and she returned in the Belgium Open in October 2015. She showed her improvement and belied her ranking in the round robin women’s class 6 singles event to take the gold medal.

Billy Shilton Vejle 2015 13Having been diagnosed at the age of five with Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT) Billy was also  looking for a sport that he could play competitively and started playing table tennis at the age of 12 after watching his dad Michael play in a local league tournament. He was spotted by the GB squad at the UK School Games in 2012 and invited to attend a development camp from which he progressed to the Pathway Squad. He made his international debut in Belgium in 2013 and was selected for his first major championship - the European Championships in Denmark - in 2015 where he exceeded all expectations in taking bronze in the men’s class 7 singles and silver in the team event.

Following the European Championships the ITTF Para Table Tennis Committee made the decision to reclassify him as a class 8 player and he responded with a superb performance to win his first singles gold medal  in Belgium and finished the 2015 season by taking team bronze in the China Open and singles bronze in Costa Rica.

Tim Lawler, chief executive of SportsAid, said: “Backing The Best is exciting. It’s a new initiative never seen before in the environment of talent in sport, being targeted at those young sports people facing the toughest financial challenges.

“Backing The Best will provide the means to give certain talented young sports people the financial help they need to access the talent pathway and develop their sporting potential – not making the journey to success any easier for these athletes, but actually making it possible.

“Without support through Backing The Best, there is a chance some talented young athletes will be lost to their sport; with Backing The Best, they have a chance to reach their full potential. It’s going to be fascinating to see how the first cohort of athletes grow and develop over the next few years - we really think Backing The Best is going to be a game changer for sport in this country.”

Sport England director of sport, Phil Smith, said: “As well as encouraging more people to play sport and be active, Sport England’s job is to help identify and develop talented athletes. But being talented can be expensive, as the cost of travelling to competitions and the essential coaching needed can mount up.

“Backing The Best has been designed to give a helping hand to those who need it – so that ability and attitude are the only criteria for success, and not money. Ultimately, we want our national teams to be truly representative of our country, rather than just those that can afford to reach the top.

“We are incredibly proud of our first group of athletes; they are an inspiring group of young people that deserve to be recognised for their talent and dedication.”

Part of the money will also go towards helping sports bodies to broaden their talent development schemes so that those slipping through the net because of cost are supported.

According to the research carried out by Leeds Beckett University, travel and accommodation are by far the biggest costs for a young athlete trying to fulfil their potential.

Young athletes with a disability also have to travel further - often abroad - because there are fewer sports clubs and teams for disabled sports, which again means the price of making it to the top is higher.

Gorazd Vecko, Performance Director for the GB Para Table Tennis Team, said: “We would like to thank Sportsaid and Sport England for their support of two of our most promising young athletes. Both Billy and Felicity have already shown great potential at international level and these awards will be a great help to them both as they work towards their goal of qualification for Tokyo in 2020.”

GB team to face Paralympic rivals in Slovenia

World champion Will Bayley and European champion Rob Davies head a 16-strong GB squad that will compete in the IPTT Slovenia Open next week (May 4-7). With nearly all the world’s top players set to take part including a strong Chinese team the tournament will provide a valuable opportunity for the GB players to test themselves against the competition ahead of the Paralympic Games in Rio in September.

Bayley, 28, silver medallist in London 2012, is currently world ranked number one in men’s class 7 but is looking to put a below-par performance in February’s Italian Open behind him.

Will Bayley action 7 2014“I can’t wait to play the best players in the world in my class,” said Bayley. “For us all to be at a competition is really exciting and I see it as a great opportunity for me. Training has been great since Italy; I have improved on things and also played many (able bodied) league matches and been successful which has given me great confidence coming in to these massive competitions. I have given it everything in the training hall since Italy - there is no stone left unturned. I’m totally ready to play in Slovenia and can’t wait to get started.”

Rob Davies 2Davies, 31, is also world ranked number one in men’s class 1 and will be making his first international appearance since successfully defending his European crown last October.

“It should be a great tournament,” said the Welshman. “Obviously I want to do well and keep a good seeding for Rio but as long as I perform in September that’s all that really counts. I’m pretty happy to be honest, we’ve had brilliant preparation and it’s more a case of keeping my body together at the moment.”

Eleven of the 12 GB athletes selected for Rio will compete in Slovenia including London 2012 bronze medallist Paul Davies, who will be returning to competition after nearly two years out through injury.

Paul Davies action 7 2014“Getting back to full fitness has been a challenge,” admits Davies, “but I have missed competing so much as I love being under pressure and the atmosphere of the competition hall. Rio is obviously my main focus this year; my progress is on target so Slovenia will be a good chance to see where I am against the best in the world.”

Also competing in Slovenia will be London 2012 medalists Jane Cambell, Sara Head, Aaron McKibbin and Ross Wilson.

Jane Campbell action 8 2014“It’s great going into a really strong competition knowing that we will be able to assess where we are against our strongest competitors,” said Campbell. “My training has really built up since Italy and I’m feeling well prepared. The tournaments coming up are a great opportunity to assess improvements and to fine tune areas to work on in the final few months of preparation for Rio.

“I’m feeling really happy with my game at the moment and am looking forward to the challenge of competing.”

Sara Head Nat Champs 2015“Training has been going well,” said Head. “We have been building on what we learnt in Italy. Slovenia and Slovakia the following week will be very important preparation for Rio. I’m really pleased that I’ve been able to have a constant level of training after two years of broken training due to surgery and illness. I feel I’m playing at a good level at this point in our preparation and I’m really pleased with areas we have worked on so hope to see the improvement in Slovenia and Slovakia when it’s put into match play.”

McKibbin and Wilson won a team bronze in London with Bayley and are also looking forward to testing themselves against the world’s best in Slovenia.

Aaron McKibbin Lignano 2014“It looks as if it is going to be even stronger then Rio potentially as the world’s top 20 will be there so it’s really exciting to be there and see what we can do,” said 24 year old McKibbin. “It’s definitely a stepping stone towards Rio and it will be a fantastic test to see where we are compared to our competition.”

Ross Wilson Vejle 2015 11“I am really looking forward to playing the Chinese players as it will be the first time I have played against any of them for a long time,” said Wilson, 20, who has had to contend with a series of injuries since London . “I’m happy with where my game is at the moment; I have put a lot of work in to the basics of my game and I know I will improve a lot in the lead up to Rio.”

Fellow Paralympians Kim Daybell, Paul Karabardak and David Wetherill will all be looking to lay down a marker ahead of Rio.

Kim Daybell Vejle 2015 3Daybell has taken a year out of his medical studies at Leeds University to prepare for Rio and started the season by taking bronze in the Italian Open in February.

“Training since Italy has been great,” said the 23 year old. “I looked at some things I needed to improve and have made changes. I think my game is coming together nicely. These tournaments are vital for Rio as we can improve our ranking and lay some markers down to the rest of the world.”

Paul Karabardak Vejle 2015 6Swansea’s Paul Karabardak is hoping to build on a good start to the season in Italy in February when he took bronze in the men’s class 6 singles and silver in the team event.

“Slovenia is always a strong competition,” said the 30 year old, “so it will be a good test for me to see where I am at the moment and see what I need to work on before the Paralympics. I am happy with this year so far as I have been training well and my level has been good. I had a good competition in Italy but I feel I can play a bit better, which hopefully I can do in Slovenia and ultimately in Rio.”

David Wetherill Vejle 2015“Rio is still a few months away but it’s a crucial time in the run up to the Games,” said Wetherill, “and may have a direct impact on how things go although I don’t want to be playing my best just yet - it’s all about peaking for Rio.

“I wasn’t playing that well at the start of this year and was disappointed in myself to lose in the final of the Malmo Open and the semi-finals of the Italian Open back in February. But things have picked up a bit since then and hopefully I can make amends out in Slovenia, and in Slovakia the following week.”

Jack Hunter-Spivey 1Jack Hunter-Spivey will compete in his first Paralympic Games in Rio and is looking to build on some good wins in the Italian Open in February, including a victory over the Paralympic champion Tommy Urhaug.

“My wins in Italy have filled me with confidence,” said the 20 year old. “I have proved I can really compete against the world’s best players and I also feel I have a lot more to improve on. My motivation has always been very high but this just shows hard work does pay off.”

Ashley Facey Thompson action 2014 (2)Ashley Facey Thompson narrowly missed out on direct qualification for the Games and as first alternate for men’s class 9 is still hopeful of competing in Rio.

“I’m excited to play the Slovenia Open,” said the 21 year old London South Bank University student, “as it is one of the strongest international tournaments on the circuit. I am looking forward to showing the world my ability and just go out and play my best table tennis.”

The squad for Slovenia is completed by Megan Shackleton, Billy Shilton, Felicity Pickard and Martin Perry.

Megan Shackleton France 2014“I’m really looking forward to Slovenia,” said Shackleton, “as it’ll be a chance to play against some of 2016’s Paralympians and I’m hoping I can compete well and show what I’ve been working really hard on in training. I’m finding new confidence in things that I felt were much weaker at the beginning of the year - which is always exciting going into a tournament.”

Billy Shilton Vejle 2015 3Shilton, 17, narrowly missed out on direct qualification for the Games after he was reclassified as a class 8 in October last year, although as first alternate for men’s class 8 he also still has a chance of competing in Rio.

“I’m really looking forward to Slovenia,” he said, “as all the top players will be there and it will be like a mini Paralympics. It will be a great learning curve for me as well as I’m going to be surrounded by all the top players. I’m really excited. Training has really picked up in intensity in the last few weeks. I am feeling much better physically and technically than before the Italian Open (in February) and the majority of sessions now are very match specific.”

Felicity Pickard Belgium 2015Pickard took time away from competition in 2014 to focus on her training rather than trying to qualify for Rio and has shown the benefit of that since returning to international competition in October last year.

“I am really looking forward to competing again against the world class players,” said the 21 year old. “It will be another great experience for me. Training has been going really well as I feel I learnt a lot in Italy and since then I have really focused on the improvements I needed to make. I have been pushing the top players and I would love to convert these close loses into wins but as long as I am constantly learning and enjoying it I know I will play my best table tennis and the wins will come eventually.”

Martin Perry France 4“I am really looking forward to the Slovenia Open,” said 21 year old Perry. “It is quite possibly the strongest tournament I have entered to date and I am going to get a chance to play some of the best players in the world and really try and show the improvement I’ve made.”

GB Performance Director Gorazd Vecko said: “The Slovenia Open is always one of the most competitive tournaments of the season and this year it will be stronger than ever. We are preparing the players to peak in September so the results in Slovenia, and in Slovakia the following week, will not necessarily have a bearing on what happens in Rio but it will give us an idea of the progress we are making and what we need to work on over the next four months.”

The full GB squad for Slovenia is:

Will Bayley - men’s class 7 (Tunbridge Wells/Sheffield)

Jane Campbell - women’s class 3 (London)

Paul Davies - men’s class 1 (North Cornelly)

Rob Davies - men’s class 1 (Brecon)

Kim Daybell - men’s class 10 (Sheffield/Leeds)

Ashley Facey Thompson - men’s class 9 (London)

Sara Head - women’s class 3 (Beddau)

Jack Hunter-Spivey - men’s class 5 (Liverpool/Sheffield)

Paul Karabardak - men’s class 6 (Swansea)

Aaron McKibbin - men’s class 8 (London/Sheffield)

Martin Perry - men’s class 6 (Paisley/Sheffield)

Felicity Pickard - women’s class 6 (Burnley)

Megan Shackleton - women’s class 4 (Todmorden)

Billy Shilton - men’s class 8 (Stonehouse/Sheffield)

David Wetherill - men’s class 6 (Torpoint)

Ross Wilson - men’s class 8 (Minster/Sheffield)

Posted in GB

GB athletes win inaugural Para events at Table Tennis England Nationals

GB Para Table Tennis team athletes Kim Daybell, Ross Wilson, Sue Gilroy and Jack Hunter-Spivey took the honours in the Para events in the PG Mutual National Championships held at the Hertfordshire Sports Village in Hatfield.

This was the first time that Para events had been included in the ETTA Senior Nationals with four events played in a round-robin style format.

Kim Daybell action 6 2014In men’s class 9-10 Daybell started with 3-0 wins against Craig Allen and Shae Thakker and clinched victory in the event with a 3-0 win over GB team mate Ashley Facey Thompson, who had also recorded 3-0 wins against Allen and Thakker.

Daybell had earlier put up a great performance to reach the quarter-finals of the men’s singles with a battling 4-3 win against England international and 10th seed Helshan Weerasinghe in the last 16.

“I think it has been a good day,” said the 23 year old, who has taken a year out of his medical studies to prepare for Rio. “I’ve shown there is a gap that is being bridged between Para and able bodied table tennis. I played pretty much to the best of my ability, especially in the last 16 match. I had my chances in the quarter final as well and to finish in the top eight in the able bodied Nationals is pretty good. I’m training with able bodied players every day and I’m starting to get up to speed.  I feel like having a year when I can train full time is really good and that has shown today.”

Ross Wilson action 6 2014All four athletes in the men’s class 6-8 event have been named in the ParalympicsGB team for Rio, with 20 year old Wilson beating fellow class 8 athlete Aaron McKibbin, class 7 World number one Will Bayley and class 6 European medalist David Wetherill to finish top.

“I was reasonably pleased,” he said. “I didn’t play that well but it is a case of coming here and getting the job done and I think I did that. This is one of the first competitions I’ve played since I’ve been working on a lot of technical things in training and I tried to incorporate a lot of that into my game. That was quite an important thing for me today and I managed to get the results so I was happy with that.”

Sue Gilroy Germany 2015 3In women’s class 3-5 Gilroy recorded 3-0 wins in both her matches, against class 3 London 2012 medalist Jane Campbell and 16 year old Megan Shackleton.

“I played much better than a couple of weeks ago at the BTTAD Nationals,” said Gilroy, “everything was flowing well today. I’ve been competing every weekend for the last four weeks - I played in the county championships last week for the able bodied team and won a couple of matches 3-0 and only lost in the other two in the fifth so it has been a really good month for me.”

Jack Hunter-Spivey 1Hunter-Spivey began with a 3-1 win against Dan Bullen and was then pushed all the way by the very experienced former National champion Kevin Plowman. The 20 year old from Liverpool was 4-1 down in the final set but fought back to win it 11-9 and the match 3-2. A 3-0 win against Nicko Anderson then secured him first place in the men’s class 3-5 event.

Full results are available at

Posted in GB

LimbPower engagement in physical activity survey

Please help us to help you by taking part in this LimbPower survey to find out which activities amputees and people with physical impairments are taking part in. The results of the survey will help LimbPower to:

a) Find out which activities amputees and people with limb impairments are currently taking part in, as well what they would like to take part in the future.

b) Gain an understanding of the impact wearing a prosthesis (false limb) has on an individual’s likelihood to take part in sport and physical activity.

 We want all amputees and people with limb impairments living in the UK to complete this survey, whether you take part in sport and physical activity currently or not.

Many thanks for your help.


Paralympic stars support Talent-ID Days

Following the announcement of the team that will represent ParalympicsGB in the table tennis events at this year’s Paralympic Games two of the athletes selected for Rio are supporting the GB Para Table Tennis Team’s search for new talent this weekend.

Sara Head Nat Champs 2015

London 2012 medalist Sara Head

London 2012 medalist Sara Head will be joined by GB Pathway athlete Tom Matthews at the Talent Recruitment Day in Cardiff on Saturday, March 12 and Torpoint’s David Wetherill, who will be competing in his third Paralympic Games in Rio, will be the star attraction in Plymouth on Sunday, March 13.

With a series of Talent-ID events around the UK the GB team is actively working in partnership with each respective Home Nation Governing body in searching for talented players who could be part of the team in Tokyo and beyond. The Home Nations are instrumental in grass roots development and work hard to get potential athletes involved in the sport.

David Wetherill Slovenia 2014 1

European bronze medalist David Wetherill

These events provide a free opportunity for any disabled person to come and take part in an introduction to table tennis session. Para table tennis includes classes for a wide range of disabilities, both ambulant and wheelchair-bound athletes, as well as those with learning difficulties and is one of the most inclusive of the Paralympic sports.

Since taking four medals at the London 2012 Paralympic Games the GB team has gone from strength to strength. It enjoyed its most successful ever European Championships last year with 11 medals and now boasts two current World number ones in World champion Will Bayley and double European champion Rob Davies among its brightest prospects for the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio.

Tom Matthews Vejle 2015 5

GB Pathway athlete Tom Matthews

In addition to a 14-strong Performance Squad the team now has thriving Pathway and Development Squads bringing on young players and introducing them to International competition. In addition to Matthews, who won European team gold and singles bronze in 2015, other players to come through the Pathway Squad are 17 year old Billy Shilton and 16 year old Megan Shackleton, who also won European medals in their first major championship last year.

“We have a very talented GB squad,” said GB Pathway and Development Coach Shaun Marples, “but we are always planning for the future. At these Talent Recruitment Days we are looking for anybody who shows potential to be the next Paralympic star and once they have been identified we can assist in signposting them to their nearest club and begin their training.”

The event in Cardiff runs from 11.00am - 3.00pm on Saturday, March 12 at the Welsh Institute of Sport and the event in Plymouth runs from 11.00am - 2.00pm at Eggbuckland College. Anyone wanting further information should call 0114 261 8681.