Tokyo 2020 may not have been the Paralympic debut that Joshua Stacey wanted but the young Welshman can still be very proud of his performance at these Games which has highlighted his huge potential.
Having reached the quarter-finals of the men’s class 9 singles he came agonisingly close to a medal, losing in five sets to the very experienced Russian Iurii Nozdrunov, the World silver medallist and former World number two. In the men’s class 9-10 team event he showed character and courage to match his talent in beating the World and European bronze medallist from Spain Juan Bautista Perez Gonzalez despite being hampered by muscular spasms in his right calf that restricted his movement, fighting back from 2-1, 8-2 down to win 11-6 in the fifth.
Stacey and Ashley Facey Thompson subsequently lost their quarter-final to China and so missed out on a team medal and the 21-year-old is determined to use the pain of both those quarter-final defeats to drive him towards Paris in 2024.
“I think the main thing I’m going to take out of Tokyo is I don’t want to feel the way I felt after losing my two quarter-finals again,” he said. “I think it is just going to motivate me and make sure that when Paris comes around I don’t have those feelings and, as bad as it sounds, I put someone else in the boat that I was in.”
Quarter-finals in singles and team events would be seen by most as a more than satisfactory performance at your first Paralympic Games but Stacey is a fierce competitor and sets himself very high standards.
“I’d probably say it was an above average performance,” he said, “but not quite where I’d have liked it to have been. I had a chance in the singles and then me and Ashley definitely had a chance in the team and this time around we didn’t take our opportunities so that is why we came unstuck in the quarters.
“Competing in a Paralympics is how I thought it was in that you only play the same players you play in other international tournaments. The only difference is the atmosphere in the village which is obviously incredible to be in. I’ve enjoyed the experience and of course I’m disappointed but as a whole it’s an experience I’ll hold dear to me and I’m hoping that I get to go to Paris and improve on my results.
“It's given me an indescribable amount of motivation to be honest. The feeling I’ve had (losing in the quarter-finals) I don’t think I’ve ever had, and I don’t want to have it again. So, to make sure that doesn’t happen again I’m going to make sure I work at least harder than anyone else in my class. I think I’ve shown I can compete and I’m almost there. Maybe on another day it would have been a different result but it wasn’t so I’m just looking forward to getting back into the training hall and making sure the mistakes I do make I correct and become a better player for it.”