23 October 2018
British Para Table Team heading in right direction, says performance director
The best is yet to come from the British Para Table Team following their success at the World Championships, according to performance director Gorazd Vecko.
Ross Wilson claimed gold in Slovenia on his World Para Table Tennis Championships debut, beating double Paralympic champion Zhao Shuai in a dramatic class 8 final.
He was not the only Brit to finish on the podium, though, with Tom Matthews and Fliss Pickard also collecting bronze in the men’s class 1 and the women’s class 6, respectively.
And while Rio 2016 gold medallists Will Bayley and Rob Davies came away empty-handed, Vecko believes the championship showed the strength in depth of the British team.
“We are very happy because we have three players who have never medalled at a World Championship taking medals and a new World champion in Ross Wilson, who is still only 23-years-old,” he said.
“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.
Para table tennis star Ross Wilson
“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 because I believe in all my players but what she has done 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.”
Vecko also highlighted the performances of several rising stars who impressed under spotlight in Slovenia – showing their potential to medal by the time Tokyo 2020 comes around.
I’m very happy for Ross because it means everything to him and his family after all his injuries.
“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,” he said.
“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 [Zhou Ying] 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.”
He added: “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.”
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