by Francesca Bullock, British Para Table Tennis Team Press Officer
Gorazd Vecko reflected on the defeats of Rio gold medallists Will Bayley and Rob Davies and the emergence of new talent.
“We are very happy because we have three players who have never medalled at a World Championships taking medals and a new World champion in Ross Wilson, who is still only 23 years old. I’m very happy for Ross because it means everything to him and his family after all his injuries.
We also have medals in two new classes for us, with Ross in Men’s Class 8 and Fliss Pickard in Women’s Class 6.
Obviously we want to have more medals but it was too much to expect that everyone could take a medal. The target from UK Sport was two to five and we have three medals including a gold. If you had asked me a year ago if Fliss Pickard could take a medal at the World Championships I would not have said she has no chance. I believe in all my players but what she has done here is fantastic.
I think the results at this competition show the strength of our programme, because when our Paralympic champions Will Bayley and Rob Davies were not able to take a medal here, we had other players who stepped up to take medals. We know that Will and Rob will come back stronger than ever, so I have no doubt that they will have a chance to medal at the European Championships next year and in Tokyo 2020.
We had a lot of young athletes coming through and producing brilliant results like Megan Shackleton, who reached the quarter-finals of Women’s Class 4 and won a lot of good matches. She had a breakthrough at the training camp in Lasko this year when she was beating some really quality players. She was smiling the whole time at this tournament and to lose against the best Chinese player is no disgrace.
Tom Matthews didn’t show his best level but it was still enough to take a medal; Ashley Facey Thompson played an amazing three matches and beat the best Chinese player in Class 9. He knew the opportunity was there for a medal and he was nervous in his quarter-final but he is not experienced at this level yet. I know that he will have a chance to medal at the European Championships and will be a candidate for a medal in Tokyo.
Sue Gilroy came up against the Paralympic champion in the quarter-finals who is always difficult to beat. David Wetherill lost his quarter-final against a very good Korean player, he couldn’t get into the match but he was trying the best he could and didn’t play badly. Paul Davies is back after many problems and he was also trying his best although it was not enough here to get out of his group; Paul Karabardak also did not get out of his group but he had injury problems before the competition.
So I think overall we had some disappointing results and some amazing results. We will review everything to see what we need to do better to be ready for next year which is our qualification year for Tokyo.”
The British Para Table Tennis Team is backed by UK Sport, the organization for promoting elite sport within Great Britain.
In Lasko Celje, in the Men’s Singles events, Ross Wilson beat China’s Zhao Shuai in the Class 8 final (12-10, 7-11, 10-12, 14-12, 12-10); Tom Matthews after accounting for Italy’s Federico Falco in the quarter-final in Class 1 (3-11, 7-11, 14-12, 11-9, 12-10) suffered a semi-final defeat at the hands of Korea Republic’s Joo Youngdae, the top seed and eventual silver medallist (7-11, 11-3, 11-5, 11-8).
Alas for Rob Davies and Paul Davies, also competing in Class 1 it was not the best of fortunes; Rob Davies was beaten in the opening round by Argentina’s Guillerme Bustamente (6-11, 15-13, 11-7, 11-7), Paul Davies finished in third position in his group behind Hungary’s Endre Major and Guillermo Bustamente.
Meanwhile in Class 7, it was a quarter-final exit for Will Bayley at the hands of Spain’s Jordi Morales (11-8, 11-6, 5-11, 8-11, 11-6), as it was for Ashley Facey Thompson in Class 9; after beating China’s Zhao Yi Qing (12-10, 11-8, 9-11, 6-11, 11-7) in the group phase he suffered against Japan’s Koyo Iwabuchi (11-9, 11-6, 11-6).
Similarly, it was a round of last exit for Jack Hunter-Spivey in Class 5, a situation that applied also in Class 6 to David Wetherill. Jack Hunter-Spivey was beaten by Turkey’s Ali Ozturk, the eventual gold medallist (9-11, 11-7, 11-8, 11-8), David Wetherill lost to Korea Republic’s Park Hongkyu (11-9, 7-11, 11-7, 11-8). The latter rounds for David Wetherill in Class 6, for Paul Karabardak it was not the best of fortunes; he finished in third position in his group behind Romania’s Bobi Simion and Japan’s Kazuki Shichino.
Worthy performances, in the Women’s Singles events, it was the same scenario. In Class 6, after recording a quarter-final win against Poland’s Katarzyna Marszal (12-10, 11-9, 12-10), Fliss Pickard experienced a semi-final defeat when facing Russia’s Raisa Chebanika (11-7, 9-11, 11-6, 14-12).
A bronze medal for Fliss Pickard; for Sue Gilroy and Megan Shackleton in Class 4 it was just one step short; both experienced quarter-final defeats. Sue Gilroy lost to the eventual gold medallist, Serbia Borislava Peric-Rankovic (11-5, 13-11, 11-6); Megan Shackleton was beaten by China’s Zhou Ying, the top seed and eventual silver medallist (11-7, 11-8, 11-6).
2018 World Para Championships: Results