Greg Baker is leaving his position as British Para Table Tennis Head Coach to take up a new challenge as Performance Director for Boccia UK.
Baker started playing table tennis at the age of eight and was ranked England number 1 in U12, U15 and U18 age groups. He took up coaching in 2001 and joined the British Para Table Tennis Team in 2006, becoming Head Coach in 2009. After winning four medals in London 2012, the team won three medals in the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games – including individual golds for Will Bayley and Rob Davies - and seven medals at the Tokyo Paralympic Games last year, making it the most successful Paralympic Games in the modern era for British Para Table Tennis, while Bayley (2014) and Ross Wilson (2018) also became World champions in their respective classes.
“I want to firstly say thank you to the British Para Table Tennis World Class Programme and Board for giving me the opportunity over the last 17 years to be involved in a programme that has developed significantly over the years,” said 35-year-old Baker, who became an honorary member of UK Sport’s Coaching Fellowship in 2017. “My time as Head Coach has been a significant part of my life and provided me with memories that will last forever. The relationships that have been developed with athletes and staff during my time at British Para Table Tennis are very special to me, and I hope to continue these relationships, albeit in a different sport, and observe the athletes delivering great performances in Paris 2024 and beyond.
“I have really enjoyed throughout the last decade and more, and at four Paralympic Games, working closely with the Performance Director, coaches, athletes and support staff to help athletes achieve their ambitions and goals. It really has been a journey of ups and downs, highs and lows, but overall a very special, personal and successful journey. It has been a pleasure to be part of a programme that has developed and grown so much over the years, and I look forward to watching the programme continue to go from strength to strength in the years to come. “There have been so many highlights over the years, from putting the sport back on the Paralympic map in London 2012 by winning four medals, on to being a gold medal programme in Rio 2016 and watching the breadth and depth of the programme come to fruition in Tokyo 2020 when the sport returned with seven medals. However, the ultimate highlight has been watching athletes grow, develop and be inspired to push themselves each day over the last 17 years. The athletes’ stories and journeys have been incredible to follow over the years, and it’s been a privilege to be part of those journeys. It's difficult to find the words to do justice to the journey that I have been on with this sport. A huge thank you to everyone involved - it's been incredible.
“Although it will be extremely sad to leave behind a great programme in Para Table Tennis, I am really excited to have been given the opportunity to lead the Boccia UK World Class Programme as Performance Director to Paris 2024 and beyond. I am at a stage in my life and career where I am looking for the next challenge, and I see this role as a really great opportunity to help ensure performance success and performance sustainability over the years to come.
“Coaching will always be in my heart and a significant passion of mine. It has challenged me every day to be the best I can be and I will look to bring the skills developed in coaching into my new role as Performance Director, to help Boccia UK achieve its performance ambitions. I really believe this is the right time for me to move from being a Head Coach into strategically leading a World Class Programme.”
BPTT Performance Director Gorazd Vecko said: “Greg has played a big part in the success of the British Para Table Tennis Team over the past 17 years through his hard work, dedication and coaching ability and he can be very proud of the legacy he leaves behind within the BPTT World Class Programme. He has always looked at ways to improve as a coach and a person and his energy and commitment have inspired our athletes to work hard to be the best they can be.
“After 13 years as Head Coach Greg’s decision to move into the role of Performance Director is no surprise as he has always strived to move forward and look for new challenges. British Para Table Tennis will miss him but he will always be part of our family and we wish him all the very best in his new role with a new sport and look forward to seeing him achieve success with Boccia UK in Paris and beyond.”
Karen Tonge OBE, Chairman of British Para Table Tennis, said: “On behalf of the Board and members of BPTT we wish Greg Baker all the best for his future career and thank him for his service over 17 years.”