21 November 2019
Paralympic medallist Davies announces table tennis retirement
Paul Davies believes he accomplished everything he could in Para table tennis and will move on to the next phase of his life with no regrets after announcing his retirement from the sport with immediate effect.
Davies memorably won individual bronze at the London 2012 Paralympics in front of a raucous home crowd – more than 20 years of hard work culminating in one of the iconic moments of the Games.
Initially playing table tennis at school, before rediscovering the sport in 1991 after a road accident five years prior had left him paralysed, Davies worked his way through the ranks and earned a Paralympic debut in London.
Competing in the men’s class 1 singles, the Welshman emerged from a group containing Andrea Borgato and Andreas Vevera to reach the semi-finals, where eventual gold medallist Holger Nikelis of Germany defeated him.
That set up a bronze-medal contest against Lee Chang-Ho and an epic match eventually saw Davies prevail in the full five sets to the delight of a packed out ExCel Arena.
Paul Davies's bronze-medal win was one of the moments of the London 2012 Paralympics
Now 53 years old, he is moving on from Para table tennis but that moment seven years ago will stay with him for the rest of his life.
“The buzz and excitement of London was incredible,” said Davies. “My match was the last to finish and hearing 6,000 people shouting my name was incredible – if only I could bottle that!
Winning that bronze in the ExCel – that for me was life-changing.
“Not just for me but the whole team because me and Will (Bayley) both medalled, the girls won a team medal and the boys as well and I think that was the turning point for British Para table tennis.
“We’d never won so many medals in the Paralympic Games until then and we did pretty well in Rio but for me London was life changing.
“The time is right (to retire) now because I feel that I’ve achieved everything I could achieve in the sport. I’ve got a lot out of it and met a lot of people; I’ve won medals all around the world and I feel it is time to move on to the next chapter.”
Davies also won medals at world and European levels – including an individual silver and team gold at the 2013 European Championships – as well as competing at the 2016 Paralympics in Rio.
Paul Davies won a memorable bronze at London 2012
But at 53 years old, he feels it’s time to hang up his bat and face the next challenge that life has to offer.
“I’m going to miss the family we have (at the EIS in Sheffield) but I’m not going to miss getting up at 6am,” added Davies.
“I will miss the training because I enjoy the training and I enjoy the competitions. I’m 53 now – how many of these lads in the hall are going to be here at 53? I don’t think it will be many!
“But I’ve had a good time and I wouldn’t change anything that has happened in the past. Life is life and I’m moving on to the next chapter now. Happy days!”
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