02 Sep 2021

Emotion, tears flowed as the first outfits to be assured of a medal were named on the early afternoon of Tuesday 31st August at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.

In women’s team 4-5, at the quarter-final stage China, Sweden, Great Britain and Serbia emerged successful.

by Ian Marshall

China represented by Zhang Bian and Zhou Ying recorded an impressive 2-0 win against India’s Bhavindra Patel and Sonalben Patel.

Likewise, it was the same score line for Serbia’s Borislava Peric-Rankovic and Nada Matic in opposition to the Russian Paralympic pairing of Nadezhda Pushpasheva and Aleksandra Vasileva; a situation that also applied to Sweden’s Anna-Carin Ahlquist and Ingela Lundbäck in opposition to Thailand’s Wijittra Jaion and Panwas Singram.

However, for Great Britain’s Sue Bailey and Megan Shackleton it was a very different scenario; a recovery was the order of the day against Jordan’s Khetam Abuawad and Faten Elelimat.

The Jordan pair won the doubles (11-3, 7-11, 11-8, 6-11, 11-8), at that stage most certainly matters looked bleak for Great Britain; next on the list was Megan Shackleton against Khetam Abuawad.

Like Sue Bailey, Megan Shackleton is a class 4 player and also like Sue Bailey had finished in third place in her women’s singles group earlier in the tournament, not winning a single match. Conversely Khetam Abuawad had won bronze in women’s singles class 5.

Megan Shackleton, responded. She overcame Khetam Abuawad (11-9, 9-11, 11-7, 11-7) to set the scene for Sue Bailey to cement the recovery.

She caused British supporters agony; she clawed her way back from a two games to one deficit to beat Faten Elelimat in five games (12-14, 11-8, 2-11, 11-7, 11-5).

Delighted. Gorazd Vecko, the Great Britain team’s Performance Director, raced into the arena to hug Sue Bailey, tears flowed.

Notably for Sue Bailey it was her first medal in what is now her sixth Paralympic Games.

“It’s a dream come true. I must admit I thought it would never happen. I thought I’d have to end my career without ever getting that Paralympic medal. Megan is an amazing partner. We’ve both had a really tough couple of weeks for various reasons and for Megan to come out and play so well, I’m so proud of her.” Sue Bailey

Somewhat differently it was for Megan Shackleton her first medal in her first Paralympic Games.

“Me and Sue had said that regardless of what happens we would support each other and help each other through it. I just wanted us to come out, give it our all and fight for every point and whatever happened I knew that we would be at peace with the outcome, to get the medal is ridiculous. I just wanted to show everyone what I can do. I’ve been watching the Olympics and Paralympics since I was a baby. It’s a cliché but it’s a dream come true.” Megan Shackleton

At the semi-final stage, fixtures to be played on Wednesday 1st September, Great Britain meets China, Sweden opposes Serbia.

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