20 September 2019
Karabardak, Perry and Wetherill defend European table tennis title
Paul Karabardak, Martin Perry and David Wetherill successfully defended their European title in class 6 at the European Para Table Tennis Championships in Helsingborg.
Aaron McKibbin, Billy Shilton and Ross Wilson were silver medallists in men’s class 8 and Kim Daybell, Ashley Facey Thompson and Joshua Stacey took bronze in men’s class 10.
Karabardak and Wetherill started their semi-final against France with a 3-0 win in the doubles but Wetherill, who had heart surgery only last month, had to dig deep to come back from 2-1 down to beat former world No 1 Bastien Grundeler 11-6 in the fifth to take his team through to the final against Greece.
The British pair made the perfect start by winning the doubles against Georgios Mouchthis and Marios Chatzikyriakos 3-0 but Chatzikyriakos kept Greece in the tie with a 3-0 win against Karabardak.
Wetherill again had to battle his way into the match after losing the first set and when Mouchthis won four points in a row from 10-5 down, coach Andrew Rushton called a time out and Wetherill clinched the set 11-9 to level at 1-1. He took the next 11-2 and secured the gold 11-6 in the fourth.
I didn’t play well in the semi-final and that took it out of me a bit but the big W is what matters
Wetherill said: “I felt very confident going into the final singles and maybe the only time that confidence wavered was when he won a few points at 10-5 in the second and a little bit of negativity came into my brain.
“But we called a time out and winning that set was crucial as I never felt I was going to lose after that. I was very tired – I didn’t play well in the semi-final and that took it out of me a bit but the big W is what matters.
“I didn’t even have the energy to celebrate at the end – that is how tired I am. Sometimes my bones turn to concrete and it is hard to get the feel for the ball but I was just pleased to get the win to be honest.
“We were expected to win so there was a bit of pressure on us which is why it is nice to come through. It has been a good week and I would have taken it five days ago.”
McKibbin, Shilton and Wilson took bronze in men’s class 8 team two years ago and they improved on that by beating Sweden in their semi-final. McKibbin and Wilson won the doubles 3-0 and world champion Wilson then recovered from dropping the first set to beat Tobias Andersson 3-1.
They faced world and Paralympic champions Ukraine in the final and made a great start by taking the first set in the doubles and had points to take the second but Viktor Didukh and Ivan Mai came back to win it 12-10.
They took the third by the same score before winning the match 11-5 in the fourth. McKibbin played well against Didukh but the world number one was just too strong and secured the gold for Ukraine with a 3-0 win.
It was nevertheless a promising performance from the British team with Tokyo 2020 in mind.
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