World champion Will Bayley, four-time European champion Rob Davies and Commonwealth champions Jack Hunter-Spivey and Joshua Stacey head an 18-strong British squad for the ITTF European Para Desk Tennis Championships in Sheffield subsequent month.
The Championships on the English Institute of Sport from September 4-9 are solely the second time because the London 2012 Paralympic Video games that the celebs of the British Para Desk Tennis Group have had the chance to compete in entrance of a house crowd.
The event additionally represents a possibility for athletes to safe Paralympic qualification with the gold medallist in every singles class incomes a ‘golden ticket’ for Paris 2024 and invaluable world rating factors out there in each singles and doubles occasions.
Tickets for the ITTF European Para Desk Tennis Championships 2023 in Sheffield from September 4-9 could be bought from www.seetickets.com
The British squad additionally options world doubles champions Billy Shilton & Paul Karabardak and Fliss Pickard & Grace Williams, world medallists Aaron McKibbin, Martin Perry, Ross Wilson and Tom Matthews and 4 members of the BPTT Pathway squad who can be making their main championship debuts, together with 13-year-old Bly Twomey and Chris Ryan, who captained the GB wheelchair rugby workforce to Paralympic gold in Tokyo.
Bayley is undefeated in males’s class 7 since taking Paralympic silver in Tokyo and reclaimed his world title in Spain final November. He final received European gold in 2011 and is hoping so as to add a second European title to his glittering CV in entrance of a house crowd.
“Each main championship means all the things to me,” mentioned Bayley. “I haven’t received European gold since 2011 so it’s troublesome to win these tournaments and I’ve to be at my easiest to have an opportunity. I take nothing without any consideration and I’ll be actually targeted for each match.
“I feel that’s what I’ve improved probably the most in the previous few years – not getting too carried away desirous about successful a event however simply making an attempt to get by means of the rounds.
“It’s going to be very powerful and there are some wonderful gamers who all wish to beat me. To win the Europeans at dwelling can be very particular and doubtless the most effective moments of my profession.”
The 35-year-old has been working with Bly Twomey at Brighton TTC and can play combined doubles in Sheffield with the 13-year-old, who solely began enjoying desk tennis two years in the past.
“Bly is a tremendous participant and she or he can be wonderful with out me,” mentioned Bayley. “She is so good to work with and she or he truly motivates me as a result of she is so good within the coaching corridor and actually desires to win so it’s making me higher and I owe quite a bit to her.
“I typically neglect she is barely 13 – to be enjoying at this stage as a 13-year-old is unbelievable so we’re simply going to have enjoyable and luxuriate in each single minute.”
Davies can be bidding for his fifth consecutive European title in males’s class 1. The Rio 2016 Paralympic champion was unable to defend his title in Tokyo on account of a shoulder harm and can face powerful opposition together with his team-mate and fellow Welshman Tom Matthews, who got here out on prime of their current assembly within the ultimate of the Czech Open in June.
“I’m feeling excited for the event,” mentioned Davies. “Clearly having it in Sheffield is a good alternative and hopefully there’ll be loads of Welsh supporters.
“We haven’t had a Europeans for 4 years which has been good for me as a result of I’ve been out injured quite a lot of the time. I attempt to not suppose an excessive amount of about going for my fifth consecutive title as a result of you’ll be able to’t take into consideration the result, you simply should take it match by match. Each match is troublesome so I’m trying ahead to the problem and we’ll see the way it goes.
“Tom and I are each aggressive guys – he’s a teenager coming by means of and if he can get to the ultimate will probably be sensible and if we might each get there it might be excellent. We’ll take into consideration that if it occurs however in the meanwhile I simply wish to hold enhancing. I’ve acquired a option to go to be at my greatest however I’m going to maintain coaching exhausting and take into consideration every match because it comes.”
Stacey received his first main title on the Commonwealth Video games in Birmingham final 12 months, taking gold for Wales within the males’s class 8-10 singles, and reached the ultimate within the World Championships, dropping in 4 units to the sensible Belgian Laurens Devos, who has not misplaced a match in males’s class 9 since 2015.
“This season has been a bit up and down,” mentioned Stacey, who took 5 months out after the World Championships to get better from harm, “however having the day without work I wanted to kind my physique out I’ve simply accepted that my stage and the way I’m enjoying will not be precisely the place I would like it to be. The plan has all the time been to try to peak come September and I feel I’m in a superb place to try this.”
Stacey can also be seeking to enhance on the silver medal that he and doubles associate Ross Wilson received in Spain final 12 months.
“I positively really feel I’m in a stronger place going into the Europeans than I used to be on the Worlds final 12 months,” he mentioned, “and I feel I’ll be lower than glad with something lower than two gold medals.
“Ross and I’ve a superb understanding and we each know certainly one of us can pull the opposite out of bother if it’s ever wanted. Earlier than the Worlds final 12 months, we hadn’t practised an excessive amount of collectively due to our schedules so the actual fact we’ve been capable of practise extra going into the Europeans means I’m feeling assured about our probabilities of getting gold fairly than simply being stood on the rostrum.”
BPTT Efficiency Director Gorazd Vecko can also be assured that his workforce is able to tackle one of the best in Europe.
“We’ve had some good outcomes this season and the coaching camps have all gone to plan,” he mentioned. “Clearly, the gamers are very excited to play within the first ever main Para desk tennis competitors to be held in Nice Britain, particularly as it’s in Sheffield which is the house of British Para desk tennis.
“That is additionally about qualification for Paris 2024 and I imagine that Europe is the strongest continent in Para desk tennis at this second so will probably be troublesome to get gold medals within the singles occasions, however any medal will assist in the direction of Paralympic qualification.
“We had nice success in doubles on the World Championships in Spain final 12 months and we have now excellent possibilities to take medals in quite a lot of courses in Sheffield.”
Whereas the 14 athletes within the Efficiency squad can be chasing medals and Paralympic qualification, for the 4 Pathway athletes the Europeans will present invaluable expertise at this early stage of their careers.
“I’m actually pleased with our Pathway programme,” mentioned Vecko. “Previously six years Joshua Stacey, Billy Shilton, Megan Shackleton, Fliss Pickard, Tom Matthews, Martin Perry and Grace Williams have all come by means of to take medals at main championships.
“Now we have now one other 4 gamers who’re knocking on the door of the Efficiency squad – Bly Twomey, Chris Ryan, Romain Simon and Theo Bishop.
“Competing within the Europeans can be nice motivation for them and an enormous funding of their future careers in Para desk tennis. You’ll be able to actually see they’ve that additional one thing that Efficiency athletes have to have, and I imagine that these are the following gamers that may compete for GB in future Paralympic Video games.”
Full British squad
Aaron McKibbin, 31 (32 on August 27), from: London (Wandsworth), lives: Epsom
Occasions: males’s singles class 8, males’s doubles class 14 (with Martin Perry)
Ashley Facey, 28, London (Stratford)/Sheffield
Occasions: males’s singles class 9, males’s doubles class 18 (with Will Bayley), combined doubles class 17 (with Grace Williams)
Billy Shilton, 24, Stonehouse (Gloucester)/Sheffield
Occasions: males’s singles class 8, males’s doubles class 14 (with Paul Karabardak), combined doubles class 14 (with Fliss Pickard)
Bly Twomey, 13, Brighton
Occasions: girls’s singles class 7, combined doubles class 14 (with Will Bayley)
Chris Ryan, 32, Welwyn Backyard Metropolis
Occasions: males’s singles class 2
Felicity Pickard, 29, Burnley/Sheffield
Occasions: girls’s singles class 6, girls’s doubles class 14 (with Grace Williams), combined doubles class 14 (with Billy Shilton)
Grace Williams, 20, Llanfyllin/Sheffield
Occasions: girls’s singles class 8, girls’s doubles class 14 (with Fliss Pickard), combined doubles class 17 (with Ashley Facey)
Jack Hunter-Spivey, 28, Liverpool/Sheffield
Occasions: males’s singles class 5, combined doubles class 10 (with Megan Shackleton)
Joshua Stacey, 23, Cardiff/Sheffield
Occasions: males’s singles class 9, males’s doubles class 18 (with Ross Wilson)
Martin Perry, 29, Paisley/Dumbarton
Occasions: males’s singles class 6, males’s doubles class 14 (with Aaron McKibbin)
Megan Shackleton, 24, Todmorden/Sheffield
Occasions: girls’s singles class 4, combined doubles class 10 (with Jack Hunter-Spivey)
Paul Karabardak, 37, Swansea
Occasions: males’s singles class 6, males’s doubles class 14 (with Billy Shilton)
Rob Davies, 39, Brecon
Occasions: males’s singles class 1
Romain Simon, 34, Leyton/Chigwell
Occasions: males’s singles class 3, males’s doubles class 4 (with Tom Matthews)
Ross Wilson, 28, Minster/Sheffield
Occasions: males’s singles class 8, males’s doubles class 18 (with Joshua Stacey)
Theo Bishop, 20, Rossendale/Sheffield
Occasions: males’s singles class 7
Tom Matthews, 31, Aberdare
Occasions: males’s singles class 1, males’s doubles class 4 (with Romain Simon)
Will Bayley, 35, Tunbridge Wells/Brighton
Occasions: males’s singles class 7, males’s doubles class 18 (with Ashley Facey), combined doubles class 14 (with Bly Twomey)