by Francesca Bullock (British Para Table Tennis Team Press Officer)
Matters level in Rio de Janeiro in the Men’s Team Class 6-8 bronze medal fixture; Aaron McKibbin beat Sun Churen by the very narrowest of five game margins (12-14, 8-11, 11-8, 11-6, 11-6) to secure victory in opposition to China, the reigning World champions.
“It was big for me to win that last match in the team event in Rio and prove that I deserved to be there. I definitely feel more relaxed going in to this season as although I still want to improve and perform well I feel more confident now. I’ve done it before so hopefully I can do it again. We are ready for some matches and it will be exciting to compete again. Hopefully we can pick up where we left off in Rio”, Aaron McKibbin
The bronze medal in London was to some extent a repeat of four years earlier when they had also secured Men’s Team Class 6-8 bronze.
At the time Ross Wilson was only 17 years old but arguably the success in Rio de Janeiro was even more creditable; since London Ross Wilson has experienced a series of injuries.
“Preparation has been going really well. Italy will be my first competition since Rio so I really can’t wait to get out there and see where I am compared to the other players in the world. The plan is to make sure that I get on top of my recovery work and hopefully have fewer injuries so I can train more. If I can get results like I did in Rio even when I am struggling with injuries then hopefully I can do even better if I can stay fit”, Ross Wilson
Also competing in Italy will be five time Paralympian Sue Gilroy. She came agonisingly close to winning her first Paralympic medal in Rio de Janeiro. She was beaten in the Women’s Singles Class 4 bronze medal contest by Serbia’s Nada Matic (12-14, 8-11, 11-8, 11-6, 11-6).
“Training has been going well. I’ve been playing a lot of able bodied county tournaments and in two leagues so most of my preparation has been playing against able bodied players but I’ve been on a Great Britain training camp in Sheffield this week and playing against wheelchair players and I’ve been playing really well. I played well in Rio, the last match was disappointing but it is a new season now so I’m really looking forward to Italy”, Sue Gilroy
The full Great Britain squad for the Lignano Masters Open is: Ashley Facey Thompson (Class 9), Sue Gilroy MBE (Class 4), Lawrence John (Class 10), Paul Karabardak (Class 6), Aaron McKibbin (Class 8), Tom Matthews (Class 1), Martin Perry (Class 6), Felicity Pickard (Class 6), Megan Shackleton (Class 4), Billy Shilton (Class 8), David Wetherill (Class 6), Ross Wilson (Class 8)
Additionally the following members of the Pathway Squad will compete in the Lignano Junior Open: Craig Allen (Class 9), Daniel Bullen (Class 5), Tamlan Eastwood (Class 9), Ryan Henry (Class 8), Lawrence John (Class 10), Conor McAdam (Class 6), Jack Stockdale (to be confirmed), Shae Thakker (Class 10)