Francesca Bullock, British Para Table Tennis Team Press Officer
The 29 year old from Tunbridge Wells in south east England won the European title in 2011 but has been the silver medallist on the two most recent occasions. He lost in the final in 2013 to the Ukrainian Mykhaylo Popov and in 2015 to Jean-Paul Montanus from the Netherlands.
Notably earlier this year in June, Will Bayley won Men’s Class 7 at the Bayreuth Para Open in Germany beating the current World number one Maksym Nikolenko from Ukraine in the final.
“I might never have the opportunity again to hold all three titles at the same time and it would be a dream so I just want to put myself in with a chance of doing it. I’m also realistic enough to know that sport is unpredictable and anything can happen, so I don’t really put myself under too much pressure in that way. It’s been a really good build-up, probably one of the best that I’ve had and I’ve been working harder than ever before and trying to improve, because I don’t want people to say that I settled for gold in Rio and now I’ve taken my foot off the gas. Winning the German Open gives me massive confidence because Nikolenko has been brilliant this season and only lost one match, so it is going to be a massive challenge to beat him but I’m looking forward to it.” Will Bayley
Meanwhile, Rob Davies is bidding for his third consecutive European singles title. Also with fellow Welshmen Paul Davies, the London 2012 bronze medallist, and Tom Matthews, they will defend the Men’s Class 1 Team title won at the European Para Championships in 2013 and 2015. The 33 year surrendered the World number one ranking after a below par performance in the Bayreuth Open in but came back to win gold in the Czech Open earlier this month.
“You can’t be 100 per cent on top of your game constantly and I wanted to concentrate on other things in my life after Rio, including getting married in July. It is nice to be World number one, I think I was on honeymoon when I heard that I had gone down the rankings but to be honest it is not as important for me as winning the major titles. Nobody remembers who was world number one; it is titles that really matter so I’m looking forward to going to the Europeans and hopefully playing my best table tennis. The Czech Open was really good match practice and I was happy with my performance there so I’ve just got to try and up my level again for the Europeans.” Rob Davies
Impressively, the British squad for Slovenia also includes Rio and London Paralympic team medallists Aaron McKibbin and Ross Wilson, World silver medallist Sue Gilroy, World and European medallist Paul Karabardak, European medallist David Wetherill and talented teenagers Megan Shackleton and Billy Shilton, who both took medals in the European Championships in 2015.
“The European Championships will be our first major competition since Rio. We have a lot of experience in our squad as well as some younger players who will undoubtedly benefit from the experience of playing in a major championship. Many of the world’s leading players are European so the competition will be very tough but the players are well prepared and ready for the challenge.” Gorazd Vecko, British Table Tennis Team Performance Director.”
The full British squad for the European Championships is: Will Bayley (class 7), Paul Davies (class 1), Rob Davies (class 1), Kim Daybell (class 10), Ashley Facey Thompson (class 9), Sue Gilroy (class 4), Jack Hunter-Spivey (class 5), Paul Karabardak (class 6), Tom Matthews (class 1), Aaron McKibbin (class 8), Martin Perry (class 6), Felicity Pickard (class 6), Megan Shackleton, Billy Shilton (class 8), David Wetherill (class 6), Ross Wilson (class 8)
2017 European Para Championships: Draw and Latest Results