08 Sep 2016

Crowned European champion in the Danish town of Vejle, just under one year ago; Great Britain’s Rob Davies, the top seed in Men’s Singles Class 1 at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games emerged successful in his opening contest on the afternoon of Thursday 8th September.

Victorious but he gave his loyal band of supporters some moments of anguish.

by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor

The faithful Brits sat contentedly after the first two games their charge had played against Switzerland’s Sylvio Keller, at the end of the fourth they sat nervously at the very edges.

Four point lead

He won the first two, lost a close second before establishing, what appeared a winning advantage of 7-3 in the fourth; Sylvio Keller, to his great credit, maintained his composure and fought for every point. He recovered, he won the game he forced a decider.

Again Rob Davies established a lead, only this time he did not release the stranglehold, the British spectators were able to sit back in their seats with a degree of comfort; a five games was secured (13-11, 11-4, 11-13, 9-11, 11-2).

Battling for every point

“It was a case of just battling in those first two games”, said Rob Davies who hails from Abergavenny in South Wales; a part of Great Britain noted for valleys and male voice choirs.

“The last time I played Sylvio, I lost; he beat me earlier this year in the Slovak Republic”, added Rob Davies. “I wanted to finish the match, I became too eager, then I became nervous; at the end of the third game, the defeat in the Slovak Republic crossed my mind.”

Good approach

Nevertheless, with Greg Baker, the national coach and former England junior international sitting courtside, for the start of the fifth game, Rob Davies was totally focused on the task in hand.

“He has a very good approach, he is very focused when he plays; he can beat anyone in the world”, said Greg Baker.

Major boost

At the 2015 European Championships it was Greg Baker who had sat outside as the mentor.

“Winning the European title was a major boost”, added Rob Davies. “Since then I’ve been working on every part of my game; working with the physio and the coaches.”

Success for Great Britain, success for the principality of Wales; they are singing in the valleys.

Paralympics Robert Davies Sylvio Keller