Tokyo medallist Sue Bailey heads a squad of seven British athletes who will compete in the SQY French Para Open in Saint Quentin en Yvelines next week (May 5-8).
The schoolteacher from Barnsley achieved her dream of a Paralympic medal in her sixth Paralympic Games when taking bronze in the women’s class 4-5 team event in Tokyo with Megan Shackleton but the 49-year-old former European and Commonwealth champion is still hungry to win more major medals.
“Winning a medal in Tokyo has been the pinnacle of my career,” she said. “After winning medals in all the major tournaments for so long a Paralympic medal was the only one that had eluded me, and I always thought that I would have to end my career without achieving my dream but thankfully that didn’t happen. It has actually given me more incentive to want to compete at the highest level, move back up the rankings and hopefully win a medal at the World Championships in November.
“The last few years have obviously been very challenging due to Covid but training has been much more consistent since Tokyo. Being able to train every week with my partner has really helped me progress with areas of my game that I wanted to improve. I think the lack of match practice at international tournaments abroad is always challenging but it is the same for everyone and it will just be about getting back into that mindset now. This will be only the fourth tournament I’ve been to in nearly three years and one of those was the Paralympics, but it is great to start competing abroad again.”
Bailey started this season by taking bronze in the women’s class 4-5 singles at the Costa Brava Spanish Open last month and is hoping to build on that in France.
“Competing in Spain gave me an insight into which areas of my game I need to focus on over the coming months to make sure I can qualify for the World Championships and Commonwealth Games,” she said. “Spain was my first tournament for six months so hopefully in France I’ll be able to find my form and play the way I know I can.”
Bailey will compete in the mixed doubles in France with her partner Scott Robertson, the four-time Paralympian who made his first international appearance since London 2012 in last month’s Egypt Open and is self-funding his international comeback. Also competing in France are Pathway athletes Theo Bishop, Andrew Guy, Grace Williams and Lee York and self-funding Simon Heaps.
The full list of British athletes competing in the French Para Open is:
Sue Bailey, 49 - Barnsley (class 4)
Theo Bishop, 18 - Bury (class 7)
Andrew Guy, 37 - Bovey Tracey (class 2)
Simon Heaps, 66 - Milford on Sea (class 5)
Scott Robertson, 45 - Barnsley (class 5)
Grace Williams, 19 - Wrexham/Sheffield (class 8)
Lee York, 33 - Wakefield (class 4)