Paralympic champions Will Bayley and Rob Davies head a squad of 14 British athletes who will compete in the World Para Table Tennis Championships in Slovenia from October 17-20.
The squad also includes this year’s Commonwealth Games gold and silver medallists Ross Wilson and Kim Daybell.
Bayley will be defending the men’s class 7 World title he won in Beijing four years ago and despite achieving his dream of becoming Paralympic champion in Rio admits that he is still driven by his desire for more titles.
“I still feel that I’ve got a lot to prove as a player and a lot more to achieve,” said Bayley. “
I’ve been playing really well in the British League and beaten some good able-bodied players and if I can take that form into the World Championships then that will be really good for me. I really want to have a major tournament where I play my top level.
“I didn’t play my best in Rio but I somehow managed to pull through in close matches. Now I’d like to have a tournament where I play my best level – but if I play well or badly I still want to be in the moment and enjoy it.”
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 34 year old 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,” said Davies. “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.”
The British team also includes London and Rio Paralympic team bronze medallist Aaron McKibbin, World silver medallist Sue Gilroy, European silver medallists Tom Matthews and David Wetherill, European team champion Paul Karabardak and European team silver medallist Ashley Facey Thompson.
The full British squad for the World Championships is:
Will Bayley MBE, 30 years old (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 (wo
men’s class 4)
David Wetherill, 28 (men’s class 6)
Ross Wilson, 23 (men’s class 8)
Pictures courtesy of British Para Table Tennis, with thanks.