09 Sep 2016

Born in the city renowned for the production of steel, the city of Sheffield, Kim Daybell showed nerves of steel as he caused arguably the biggest upset on the second morning of play, Friday 9th September at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.

The 24 year old, saved one match point in the deciding fifth game against Indonesia’s David Jacobs, the no.2 seed, before on his second opportunity clinching victory (11-9, 9-11, 14-12, 5-11, 14-12). A standing ovation not only from the British faithful but also from the neutrals greeted his efforts.

by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor

I must confess a vested interest, Kim Daybell comes from the same county in England as myself, the county of the white rose, the county of Yorkshire; such is the pride of those who live in that region of the United Kingdom that a unilateral declaration of independence has been suggested more than once.

Best match to date

The contest was a joy to behold. It was the best match of the whole tournament to date, both in terms of drama and quality; that is not just my view.

At the conclusion of the engagement, when the enthralled spectators departed the tiered seating, the phrase uttered more than once was “what a great match”; experienced classifiers endorsed the view as did those from the other side of the Pennine mountain range, those who are the sworn adversary of the Yorkists.

Backhand unrelenting

Trailing 10-11 in the decider, Kim Daybell, ripped into a series of backhand topspin strokes of which Zhang Jike would have proud; he went for broke and it paid dividends.

“It was the first time that I have played David, I felt good and I thought that if I was negative when close; then win or lose I would not have done myself justice”, said Kim Daybell, who is studying medicine at Leeds University and has taken a sabbatical with the focus being on Rio de Janeiro.

Leave everything on the table

“I thought that if was going to lose then I would lose fighting”, added Kim Daybell. “I was going to leave everything on the table, if had lost I would still have been proud of my efforts.”

The positive response bore fruit as did the backhand reminiscent of the Russians Stanislav Gomozkov and Sarkis Sarkhojan of the 1960s.


“My backhand is my strength, my disability is in my left shoulder, so playing strong forehand top spins is in reality not possible”, explained Kim Daybell. “Yes, I’m well aware of my problems when playing, I go back too much; I need to stay closer more often.”

He is of correct but it is the fact that he enjoys playing nearer the court surrounds than the table which endeared him to the crowd; entertaining rallies were the order of the contest.

Played in London

Furthermore, he has one toe missing from each foot; thus balance is problem.

“I played in London four years ago”, added Kim Daybell. “I reasonably knew what to expect, the lights, the theatre, it wasn’t new.”

Door open

Defeat for David Jacobs but with players finishing first and second in each group advancing to the main draw, it is not the end of the road.

On the opening day of play he beat Bas Hergelink of the Netherlands (11-4. 11-3, 11-6); Kim Daybell meets Bas Hergelink in the concluding contest.

Top seed untroubled

Problems for the second seed but there were no such difficulties for the top seed.

Poland’s Patryk Chojnowski, the defending champion, after overcoming Spain’s Jorge Cardona on the opening day of play (11-3, 15-13, 11-3) accounted for the Czech Republic’s Ivan Karabec (12-10, 11-7, 4-11, 11-5) to conclude his initial phase contests in first place