26 Aug 2021

Commonwealth Games gold medallist in 2018, before later in the year being anointed World champion, there was disappointment for Great Britain’s Ross Wilson on the morning of Thursday 26th August at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games; on duty in men’s singles class 8, he was beaten by China’s Peng Weinan (11-7, 5-11, 6-11, 11-6, 11-9).

However, for male colleagues aspiring to achieve similar feats, there was notable success. Jack Hunter-Spivey, Ashley Facey-Thompson, Paul Karabardak, Tom Matthews and Joshua Stacey all excelled.

by Ian Marshall

Pride of place went to Jack Hunter-Spivey and Tom Matthews, both making their Paralympic Games debuts, both beat the no.2 seeded player in their respective categories.

On duty in men’s singles class 1, Tom Matthews accounted for Korea Republic’s Nam Kiwon, the no.2 seed (11-6, 11-6, 10-12, 11-9).

“It definitely doesn’t get much better than that: it was a hard fight, and I came out swinging and came out on top so I’m really happy. I felt quite relaxed and confident going into the match.  I’ve worked hard in lockdown so I’m very proud and very happy to come out with a win.” Tom Matthews

Success against the no.2 seed; competing in his second Paralympic Games, it was exactly the same for Jack Hunter-Spivey, in men’s singles class 5; he beat Chinese Taipei’s highly rated Cheng Ming-Chih (11-3, 11-4, 11-3).

“I’ve put all the work in and left no stone unturned; to beat the World number two quite comfortably is a surreal feeling so I feel really emotional, with the pandemic I didn’t know what the other athletes had been doing so it was tough to know what level they were at. It is a bit like going to the Bake-Off and making a cake and you don’t know what anyone else’s cake is like.” Jack Hunter-Spivey

In the concluding group stage matches Jack Hunter-Spivey meets Belgium’s Bart Brands, Tom Matthews opposes Russia’s Dimitri Lavrov. Earlier, Bert Brands lost to Cheng Ming-Chih (11-3, 11-4, 11-8), Dimitri Lavrov was beaten by Nam Kiwon (11-9, 11-8, 11-4).

Meanwhile, equally impressive in men’s singles class 6, Paul Karabardak accounted for Romania’s Bobi Simon (7-11, 11-7, 11-8, 12-10), a player against whom he has experienced problems in the past.

“I’m unbelievably delighted. I always think I’ve got a chance of beating him, but I haven’t beaten him for such a long time. He is very tricky for me and difficult to play. Today I managed to play the right tactic, I think that maybe rattled him a little bit and put him under a lot of pressure.” Paul Karabardak

Australia’s Trevor Hirth now awaits Paul Karabardak; on the open day he was beaten by Bobi Simon 911-7, 11-13, 11-2, 11-3).

A fourth Paralympic Games for Paul Karabardak, for Joshua Stacey, like Paul Karabardak from Wales, it is his first. Plying his skills in men’s singles class 9, he beat Chinese Taipei’s Chee Chaoming (11-6, 11-8, 11-9) and now meets Italy’s Mohamed Khalem, bronze medallist in Rio de Janeiro.

“I think I want something a bit brighter and better to be one of my milestones and obviously a medal would be ideal. Of course, it’s a nice feeling to win so I’m happy. I think I played pretty well in patches. I’m definitely getting settled into the tournament now, I felt I was moving better today.” Paul Stacey

Undoubtedly, a most creditable performance from Paul Stacey; also competing in men’s singles class 9, it was the same from Ashley Facey-Thompson, present in Rio de Janeiro.

He beat Russia’s Iiuri Nozdrunov, the former world no.2 and a player against whom he has now competed against on 25 occasions; Tokyo was just his fourth win!

“It was an up and down match; mixed emotions, I doubted myself and then trusted myself, but I came through and felt better at the end. I had the momentum at the end of the fifth game; I believed more and more, and it came my way.” Ashley Facey-Thompson

Now, Ashley Facey-Thompson meets Ukraine’s Lev Kats who earlier experienced a five games defeat at the hands of Iiuri Nozdrunov (11-4, 6-11, 6-11, 11-8, 11-8).

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