9 May 2019
Bayley takes brilliant para table tennis gold in Slovenia
Paralympic champion Will Bayley described himself as overwhelmed with happiness after taking gold ahead of a stellar field at the Para Table Tennis Slovenia Open, with six other Brits also medalling.
Bayley – who won silver at London 2012 before upgrading to gold in Rio four years later – won four matches on the final day to reign victorious in men’s class 7.
With nearly 450 athletes competing – including 16 Paralympic gold medallists from Rio – the PTT Slovenia Open is considered the biggest para table tennis event outside the major championships, making the Brits’ success even more impressive.
Bayley fought back from 2-1 down in the last 16 to beat Frenchman Stephane Messi, the 2004 Paralympic champion, before a 3-0 win in the quarter-finals against his old rival Jochen Wollmert – the German who bested him in the London 2012 final.
In the semi-final against Liao Keli from China, the 31-year-old edged a tense third set 13-11 and then ran away with the deciding set 11-1 after Liao had levelled at 2-2.
That set up a rematch of the Rio 2016 final against Israel Pereira Stroh and Bayley came from a set down to beat the Brazilian in four, to win his second title of 2019.
Will Bayley is a double Paralympic medallist
“It feels amazing to win the biggest tournament I have ever played with so many amazing players,” said Bayley.
“I’m overwhelmed with happiness. I’m training so hard and now I have won two big tournaments from two this season, so I think the training is paying off.
“All my matches were so close and it took all my skill to win this tournament so I’m very proud. Now I’m looking forward to playing team event with one of the legends of the game – Jochen Wollmert.”
There was a silver medal in men’s class 6 for Paul Karabardak, as he beat the reigning world and Paralympic champion Peter Rosenmeier in the last 16 but went down to world No.1 Alvaro Valera in the final.
And five British men earned themselves a bronze medal – Rob Davies (class 1), Jack Hunter-Spivey (class 5), Ross Wilson (class 8), Aaron McKibbin (class 8) and Josh Stacey (class 9) – while the team events will conclude on Saturday.
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