Article by Francesca Bullock
Paralympic champions Will Bayley and Rob Davies head a squad of 14 British athletes that will compete in the World Para Table Tennis Championships in Slovenia from October 17-20, which also includes this year’s Commonwealth Games gold and silver medallists Ross Wilson and Kim Daybell.
The full British squad for the World Championships is:
Will Bayley MBE, 30 (men’s class 7)
Paul Davies, 51 (men’s class 1)
Rob Davies MBE, 34 (men’s class 1)
Kim Daybell, 26 (men’s class 10)
Ashley Facey Thompson, 23 (men’s class 9)
Sue Gilroy MBE, 45 (women’s class 4)
Jack Hunter-Spivey, 23 (men’s class 5)
Paul Karabardak, 33 (men’s class 6)
Tom Matthews, 26 (men’s class 1)
Aaron McKibbin, 27 (men’s class 8)
Fliss Pickard, 24 (women’s class 6)
Megan Shackleton, 19 (women’s class 4)
David Wetherill, 28 (men’s class 6)
Ross Wilson, 23 (men’s class 8)
Rob Davies: Will be bidding to add the World championship to his men’s class 1 Paralympic and European titles, having taken silver in 2014. The Welshman has only played one tournament since retaining his European crown last October but has reached the final of the last five major championships, winning four of them.
“I’m excited to go into another World Championships. I might not have had the ideal preparation but I’m really looking forward to the challenge and I’m improving day-by-day. Although the Czech Open last month didn’t go according to plan I can still take a lot out of it because that is why I went there – to see what I needed to strengthen. I know what I need to work on and hopefully I’ll be stronger going into the Worlds. My record in major championships definitely does give me confidence and I enjoy the big tournaments. I like the atmosphere and I’m looking forward to getting out there and seeing what I can do.”
Paul Davies: Was also making his first appearance since taking bronze at last year’s European Championships when he was knocked out in the group stages of the Czech Open last month but is a great competitor and knows what it takes to medal at the major championships.
“Preparation has been going well and training has been good in the last couple of weeks since coming back from the Czech Open. I feel that I am at about 90% where I should be and I’m looking forward to the challenge. Hopefully we can have a 1-2-3 on the podium as we did in the Europeans last year. I didn’t play badly in the Czech Open but nine months without playing a tournament is a long time. So going by how my performance was two weeks ago and where I will be in two weeks’ time I think I’m on course for a good result. At the end of the day Tom, Rob and me are in the same class but we play for the same country and we support each other on and off the table and I just hope the three of us can get on that podium. A World singles medal would be the icing on the cake for me because that is the only one I haven’t got – that would be the box set then.”
Paul Karabardak: The three-time Paralympian will be competing in his fifth World Championships and won the deciding singles match that secured gold for Britain in the men’s class 6 team event at the European Championships last year.
“My preparations have been going really despite problems with my wrist. We had a great training camp in Slovenia last month which I felt I got a lot out of as I experienced different styles and players I don’t normally train with. I can take confidence from my performance in the Europeans last year and I think if I can play my game while keeping focused and confident I will have a good chance to do well at the World Championships. I think my experience will be a big boost as I know what it’s all about and I think that could help me deal with the pressure. There are a lot of good players there so I’m hoping my experience can be the difference in the big games.”
Tom Matthews: Took silver in the European Championships last year, losing to Rob Davies in the final, and won the Italian Open in March. He will be competing in his first World Championships.
“Preparation has been going really well. I’ve been playing matches against Rob and Paul so I’ve had the best quality training I can leading up to the Worlds. The plan at the beginning of the year was to play the Czech Open but after the Europeans I had a six month training period and I came back and won in Italy so I sat down with the coaches and we decided it would be better to rest and be fresh for the Worlds. I’m always ready to play anyone but you never know what is going to happen on the day. It would be amazing if Rob, Paul and me can make it a British 1-2-3 in men’s class 1 but we’ll just have to see what happens. I can’t wait to get out there now”