15 Aug 2021

Gold medallist at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, beating Korea Republic’s Joo Youngdae in the men’s singles final, a shoulder injury has forced Great Britain’s Rob Davies to withdraw from Tokyo 2020.

by Ian Marshall

The decision was announced on what should have been a day of celebration, Saturday 14th August was his 37th birthday.

“I’m obviously very disappointed. Winning gold in Rio was one of my proudest moments and I was looking forward to defending my title and competing in my third Paralympic Games. But injury is part of sport and I’ll now focus on regaining my fitness ahead of the World Championships next year.” Rob Davies

Rob Davies hails from Abergavenny in south Wales, a part of the world famed for male voice choirs and especially rugby union.

Semi-professional, in September 2005, representing Brecon against Ynysybwl, a collapsed scrum caused a broken neck.

He was air-lifted to hospital by helicopter, quite incredibly the same helicopter which half an hour earlier had saved his twin brother, Richard, from a road accident.

Rushed to the University Hospital of Wales, it was at first thought he would never regain use of his arms and legs. Later at the Rookwood Hospital specialist spinal unit in Llandaff, gradually use returned. He met Sara Head, a Welsh table tennis player, she introduced him to the sport.

At first Rob was reluctant, he thought table tennis was a “sissies” game, not for “macho” rugby players; he openly admits to being a little difficult. After winning in Rio de Janeiro and then being awarded the MBE (Member of the British Empire), Rob has changed his mind!

Sylvio Keller in action at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games (Photo: Richard KalocsaI)


The Welshman is replaced by Switzerland’s Sylvio Keller, men’s singles class 1 bronze medallist at the 2019 European Para Championships in Helsingborg and a decade earlier, gold medallist in the same category at the Copa Tango in Buenos Aires.

Earlier this year at the World Qualification tournament in Lasko, he was beaten at the semi-final stage of the men’s singles class 1 event by Finland’s Timo Natunen.

Now 38 years old, it will be his third Paralympic Games experience. He competed in London 2012 and five years ago in Rio de Janeiro; on both occasions not progressing beyond the initial group stage.

A major opportunity awaits in Tokyo.

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