Chris Ryan, who led the GB wheelchair rugby team to Paralympic gold in Tokyo, won his first gold medal since switching to table tennis in 2022 when combining with Spanish partner Daniel Rodriguez to win the men’s class 4 doubles on the final day of the ITTF Brazilian Para Open in Sao Paolo today. Ashley Facey teamed up with Frenchman Lucas Didier to take silver in men’s class 18, Megan Shackleton followed her gold medal in the singles by taking silver with Caroline Tabib from Israel in the women’s class 5-10 doubles and then combined with Ryan to take bronze in the mixed class 4-7. Grace Williams also took bronze in the women’s class 14-20 with 14-year-old Florencia Perez from Chile.
Men’s class 4 RR
Chris Ryan and class 2 World number 14 Daniel Rodgriguez won bronze together in the French Open last year and after losing the first set in their opening match they came back to beat Park Sung Joo from Korea and Wu Cheng-Sheng from Chinese Taipei 3-1. They then produced a great performance to beat the Para PanAmerican champions from Brazil Guilherme Marcio Da Costa and Iranildo Conceicao Espindola 3-0 and secured the gold with a 3-0 win against the second Brazilian pair Conrado Contessi and Jean Carlo De Oliveira Padilha in their final round-robin match.
“It’s been great to win my first gold in the doubles,” said 32-year-old Ryan from Welwyn Garden City who has made impressive progress since making his international debut less than 12 months ago and reached his first singles final on Friday. “We had some good wins along the way so lots of experience gained in terms of the tactics involved in doubles compared to singles. Both my doubles partners have been brilliant. Having played with Daniel once before really helped and we have a good balance between us and then to have the opportunity to play with Megan was something I was really looking forward to. She’s helped me a lot back in Sheffield and it was really fun to play together. I think we did quite well to get bronze in our first tournament as a pair especially the win we had in the quarterfinals against two high-level players.”
Men’s class 18
Ashley Facey and class 9 World and European bronze medallist Lucas Didier from France lost a tight first set to Lin Chung Ting and Hu Ming-Fu 12-10 but went on to beat the pair from Chinese Taipei 3-1. They progressed to the knockout stages as group winners with 3-0 wins against two pairs from Brazil - Gabriel De Oliveira Antunes and Jean Carlos De Souza Mashki, the Para PanAmerican champions, and Paulo Henrique Fonseca and Carlos Alberto Carbinatti Junior.
In the semi-final they faced another Brazilian pair Luiz Filipe Guarnieri Manara and Claudio Massad, bronze medallists in the Para PanAmerican Games, and a 3-0 win took them through to the final where they lost 3-1 to Jorge Cardona and Ander Cepas from Spain.
“I’m not really happy with my performance,” said Facey. “We did what we had to do to get to the final but I think we gave Spain too much respect. On to the next tournament now.”
Women’s class 5-10 RR
Megan Shackleton and class 5 World number eight Caroline Tabib from Israel were 3-0 winners against Nayla Soledad Kuell and Maria Constanza Garrone from Argentina and 3-0 winners against Carla Maia Limp De Azevedo and Juliana Christina Ferreira Da Silva from Brazil. Their final match in the round-robin class was to decide the gold medal and Shackleton and Tabib had to settle for silver after a 3-0 loss to Joyce De Oliveira and Thais Fraga Severo from Brazil.
Mixed class 4-7
Chris Ryan and Megan Shackleton were beaten 3-0 by the Para PanAmerican Games champions Fabio Silva and Joyce De Oliveira from Brazil but progressed to the quarterfinals with a 3-0 win against David Andrade De Freitas and Juliana Christina Ferreira Da Silva from Brazil. The GB pair combined well to beat the Brazilian/Israeli partnership of Guilherme Marcio Da Costa and Caroline Tabib 3-1 and took the bronze medal after losing their semi-final to Luis Bustamante Flores and Tamara Leonelli Leonelli from Chile 3-0.
“The doubles has been good,” said Shackleton. “It was great to get silver with Caroline and keep plugging away at my doubles ranking. Working with Chris for the first time was really special as well. We get on well together and our communication was great throughout the matches so I think we can be really proud to come away with bronze having not been seeded.”
Women’s class 14-20
After edging a tight first set 14-12 Grace Williams and 14-year-old Florencia Perez, the class 8 World number seven from Chile, completed a 3-0 win against Karina Bezerra Becker Aloise Moura and Jaqueline De Castro Ishida from Brazil. They lost 3-0 to the class 10 pair Tian Shiau Wen and Lin Tzu Yu, the World bronze medallists from Chinese Taipei, but secured their place in the knockout stages with a 3-1 win against Camelia Ciripan and Gabriela Constantin from Romania.
In the semi-final Williams and Perez faced class 10 World number three Bruna Costa Alexandre and class 9 World number seven Danielle Rauen and they started well by taking the first set but the Brazilian pair came back to win 3-1.
“Coming to Brazil has been an experience,” said Williams, “to learn and build on in training for the next tournament. Losing in the quarterfinals of the singles was difficult but with time to reflect I’ve found some fundamentals to work on in training and how they can help to grow my game going forward. This tournament may not have been good for results but from a learning point of view it’s been great. I’m glad to have come away with a bronze in the doubles and that has also given me lots to develop and work on for future tournaments.”
Men’s class 14
In their first match Theo Bishop and his class 6 partner Michael Azulay from Sweden were involved in a great battle with former World champions Alvaro Valera and Jordi Morales and led 2-1 before the Spanish pair levelled at 2-2 and took the deciding set 11-9. Bishop and Azulay lost 3-0 to the experienced French pair of Stephane Messi and Kevin Dourbecker but finished on a high by fighting back from 2-0 down to beat the class 7 Brazilian pair of Paulo Salmin Filho and Israel Pereira Stroh 3-2 and were unlucky to miss out on a place in the knockout stages on countback.
“It’s been a bittersweet tournament for me,” said 20-year-old Bishop. “Of course, I’m disappointed to have lost two close games to top opponents in the singles but there are many positives to take from the fact that I was well and truly in those matches and from beating Gustafsson 3-0 when the pressure was on to top my group. In the doubles it was great to play with Azulay and we worked really well as a pair. It was great to finish the tournament with a win over two top 15 players in my class and overall, this tournament has been a much needed confidence boost after some tough recent tournaments. I’m hoping to carry this confidence and form with me into my next tournament in Kazakhstan.”