Rio 2016 Paralympic champions Will Bayley and Rob Davies are among a squad of nine British Para Table Tennis Team athletes who will compete in this week’s Czech Para Open in Ostrava from June 23-25. The tournament has taken on additional significance as all nine athletes were among the 11 who were unable to compete in the Montenegro Para Championships earlier this month when their Wizz Air flight from London Gatwick Airport was cancelled.
“The Czech Open is very important from a performance perspective,” explained BPTT Performance Director Gorazd Vecko. “Some players are still trying to qualify for the World Championships later this year and others have qualified on their World ranking but need to go to a tournament to get the tournament credit they need in order to compete. Because we had to withdraw from Montenegro some players will now need to go to Thailand or Argentina to secure their qualification which will have a big impact on our budget.
“Otherwise, the team is in good shape and we are expecting good results in the Czech Open. We were able to enter Tom Matthews and Will Bayley after Montenegro which was a great benefit because without this tournament they would not have enough credits. Czech Republic, Thailand and Argentina are the last three tournaments before qualification for the World Championships ends at the end of July, so these three tournaments are really important for us.”
Bayley is hoping to follow up his success in the men’s class 7 singles at the Slovenia Open last month while Davies will be competing for only the second time since winning his fourth consecutive men’s class 1 European title in September 2019. Fellow Welshman Paul Karabardak will be making his first appearance since taking Paralympic team silver and individual bronze last year. Also competing in the Czech Republic are fellow Tokyo medallists Sue Bailey and Billy Shilton, Costa Brava Spanish Open gold medallists Fliss Pickard and Joshua Stacey, and Slovenia Open bronze medallist Martin Perry.
The full list of British athletes competing in the Czech Open is:
Sue Bailey, 49 - Barnsley (class 4)
Will Bayley, 34 - Tunbridge Wells/Brighton (class 7)
Rob Davies, 37 - Brecon (class 1)
Paul Karabardak, 36 - Swansea (class 6)
Tom Matthews, 29 - Aberdare (class 1)
Martin Perry, 28 - Paisley/Dumbarton (class 6)
Fliss Pickard, 27 - Burnley/Sheffield (class 6)
Billy Shilton, 23 - Stonehouse/Sheffield (class 8)
Joshua Stacey, 22 - Cardiff/Sheffield (class 9)