13 Mar 2018

Paralympic Games gold medallist Will Bayley heads a 12 player strong British squad that will compete in the Lignano Masters Para Open in Italy later this week.

Staged from Thursday 15th to Saturday 17th March, it is the first international tournament of the year.

by Francesca Bullock, British Para Table Tennis Team Press Officer

Resident in the northern English city of Rotherham, the 30 year old who hails from Tunbridge Wells in the south east of the country, won gold in the Men’s Singles Class 7 at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games The success came four years after winning silver in London.

More recently he was the runner up to Aaron McKibbin in the Men’s Singles Class 7-10 at the English National Championships earlier this month; Aaron McKibbin is Class 8 athlete and thus of a lesser disability.

Most pertinently Will Bayley is focused on defending the World title won in 2014 in Beijing when beating Ukraine’s Maksyn Nikolenko in the final; the World Championships are scheduled for later this year in Lasko, Slovenia.

“Training is going well and I feel like I have improved a lot over the last few months; I’m looking forward to the international season getting under way.” Will Bayley

Eyes focused on Lasko, for Kim Daybell (Men’s class 10) and Ross Wilson (Men’s Class 8), both on duty in Lignano, they have a much more pressing date. The will be present in Gold Coast to represent Team England at next month’s Commonwealth Games.

Kim Daybell is in the final year of his medical degree at Leeds University and after taking his first major medal at the 2017 European Para Championships when he won silver in Men’s Team Class 10 alongside Ashley Facey Thompson, he is targeting further success this year at the Commonwealth Games and World Championships.,

“I’m still carrying over the confidence from the Europeans. I’m very excited about this season. My aim is to take a medal at the Commonwealth Games and the World Championships and I’ll also be starting work as a doctor so I’m excited about the new challenges ahead.” Kim Daybell

Positive from Kim Daybell, likewise Ross Wilson, who captured bronze in the Men’s Singles Class 8 at the European Para Championships, losing a close semi-final contest in five games when facing Viktor Didukh, the World no.1, is also ready for new challenges.

“Training is going really well at the moment. I have been able to make positive changes to my game throughout the winter and I feel confident in myself. I can’t wait for the season to begin. Italy is always a tough competition and the first of the year, so I am just going to go and give it my very best and see what happens.” Ross Wilson

In a similar vein, three times Paralympian David Wetherill, 28 years old, who produced a great performance in the European Championships last October, taking silver in the Men’s Singles Class 6 singles, before combining with Paul Karabardak and Martin Perry to win gold in Men’s Team Class 6; also has his sights set on the World Championships later this year.

“I’ve had injury problems for the last two years but I feel really fit and strong and ready for Italy. I’ve changed a lot of things in my game since the Europeans so it feels like a new me coming into this season. I feel that it is a better version but I’m not expecting things to go 100 per cent smoothly all the time. All I can do is go out there and do my best. Italy is the first step on the ladder for this season, so if it doesn’t go so well I’ve still got time to get better for when it really matters.” David Wetherill

Pertinently, Paul Karabardak, who will be defending his Men’s Class 6 singles title and Martin Perry are included in the British squad for Lignano which also features 2017 European medallists, Tom Matthews, (Men’s Class 1), Aaron McKibbin (Men’s Class 8), Billy Shilton (Men’s Class 8) and Ashley Facey Thompson (Men’s Class 9).

They will be present alongside World Team bronze medallist Megan Shackleton (Women’s Class 4) and 18 year old Pathway athlete Josh Stacey (Men’s Class 9). He will represent Wales at the Commonwealth Games.

Performance Director Gorazd Vecko is hoping for good results after a hard winter’s training but is also looking for the team to peak at the World Championships in October.

“The first event of the year is always difficult to assess; whatever the results we will take the positives. Our main goal for this year is the World Championships and we are preparing the athletes to produce their best in October but they have been training hard and are ready to compete. Italy is always a strong competition and it will be good to see where we are compared to the rest of the world at this stage of the season.” Gorazd Vecko

The full British squad for the Lignano Masters Open is: Will Bayley Class 7), Kim Daybell Class 10), Ashley Facey Thompson (Class 9), Paul Karabardak (Class 6), Tom Matthews (Class 1), Aaron McKibbin (Class 8), Martin Perry (Class 6), Billy Shilton (Class 8), Josh Stacey (Class 9), David Wetherill (Class 6) and Ross Wilson (Class 8). Megan Shackleton is the one female representative.

Lignano Para Masters: Latest Results

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