GB Pathway athletes Lawrence John, Martin Perry and Daniel Bullen took three medals each in the RITTO Open in Cluj-Napoca, Romania and there were also medals for Billy Shilton, who took gold in the junior men’s class 8 singles, Conor McAdam, Josh Morgan and Lucie Bouron.
John took silver in the junior men’s class 10 singles and then topped his group in the men’s class 9-10 singles, reaching the semi-finals with a 3-1 win against the Russian Aleksei Slashcilin before finding the junior gold medalist Igor Misztal from Poland too strong again in a 3-0 loss. The 17 year old from Swansea then combined with fellow Welshman Josh Morgan to take bronze in the men’s class 10 team event.
“I’m happy with my performances and results in Romania,” said John. “I had a good junior tournament then had a tough match to win my group and progressed to the semi-finals, losing to Misztal in three close sets that could have gone either way. It was good to pull it back in the team event to get another bronze with Josh, finishing second in our group and losing a difficult match against Bulgaria who went on to take the gold.”
“In the singles I don’t feel that I played as well as I can,” said Morgan, “and I was disappointed to lose in the quarter-finals. I felt that I played a lot better in the team event and am happy to come away with a bronze medal. Overall there are a lot of positives to take from this tournament and to work on back home to move my game forward.”
After taking bronze in the junior event Perry recorded one of the best wins of his career in the men’s class 6 singles, beating World number ten Bobi Simion from Romania 3-1 in the quarter-finals. The 22 year old from Paisley reached the finals with a 3-1 win against Junki Itai from Japan but had to be content with silver after losing in three close sets to Cristian Dettoni from Chile. Perry added another medal to his tally by taking bronze in the men’s class 6 team event with 18 year old fellow Scot Conor McAdam, the pair combining well to win the doubles in the semi-finals against eventual gold medalists Slovakia but losing both singles to Gabriel Csemy and Alexander Nagy respectively.
“I didn’t get off to a great start and was disappointed not to win back-to-back junior competitions,” said Perry, who won gold in the Junior Italian Open in February. “However, to come away with a bronze was a good confidence booster going into the senior event and I am really pleased with my mental performance in the senior event - I felt that at times I really tapped into my potential and played some great table tennis, especially in the quarter-final against the World number ten. I was of course disappointed to lose in the final, but I’m very happy moving forward. Playing team with Conor was fantastic - we had great fun and our friendship has been there for years so we gelled right from the beginning and I felt that our communication and fight really pulled us through at times. Overall, I’m pleased to end these two weeks on a high and with plenty of positives.”
“I’m happy with how I played in certain areas,” said McAdam, “but there is still a lot to work on. I’m also happy to win another team medal with Martin and hopefully there is more to come.”
Bullen took bronze in the men’s class 3-5 junior event and after topping his group to reach the semi-finals of the men’s class 5 singles he picked up another bronze after a 3-0 loss to the Russian Grigorii Isakov, who went on to take the gold. The 18 year old from St Neots and his American partner Eric Pattison progressed from their group in the men’s class 5 team event and after a walkover in the semi-final they took the silver medal after a 2-0 loss in the final to Isakov and his fellow Russian Aleksandr Sokolov.
“I had some good matches in Spain against higher ranked opponents,” said Bullen, “but I found it hard in Romania and didn’t perform my best in some matches. It’s been a learning curve and I have got things that I can work on for next time.”
Shilton dropped only one set on the way to winning gold in the under 23 junior event and then topped his group in the men’s class 8 singles with three wins from three. A 3-0 win against Yoshihisa Takeda took him into the quarter-finals and the 17 year old was unlucky to come up against the former World champion Richard Csejtey in top form and the Slovakian World number nine used all his experience to win in four close sets.
“Overall I feel the competition was good and I came out with a lot of positives - both for my table tennis and mentally,” said Shilton. “I was really pleased to win the junior event as it was my first time competing in a junior international competition. In the singles and team event I took the top players really close but struggled to finish the matches off. Playing in the class 9 team event was a challenging but enjoyable experience and I am looking forward to getting back into training and making as many improvements as I can.”
Bouron, from Bracknell, was teamed with the former European champion and World and Paralympic medalist Ingela Lundback from Sweden in the women’s class 2-5 team event and they reached the semi-finals but despite winning the doubles against Thailand had to settle for a bronze medal after Lundback lost 3-2 to Wijittra Jaion and Bouron was beaten 3-1 by Dararat Asayut.
“I’m pleased with my performance here in Romania,” said 21 year old Bouron. “Throughout the tournament my performance increased and I ended on a high in terms of quality of play so I’m really happy with that. I’m really pleased to have won a bronze medal in the team event after losing a close and tough semi-final.”