Tokyo medallist Megan Shackleton combined with Flora Vautier from France to win gold in the women’s class 5-10 doubles on the final day of the Finland Para Open in Pajulahti today and 13-year-old Bly Twomey took bronze in the women’s class 20 doubles with her Italian partner Elena Elli.
Women’s class 5-10 RR
Megan Shackleton teamed up for the first time with World and European doubles bronze medallist Flora Vautier and they were 3-0 winners against Beth Janina Sommer from Germany and Britain’s Beth Kyte and 3-0 winners against Aino Tapola from Finland and Manuela Guapi Guzman from Colombia. They secured the gold in the round-robin event with a 3-0 win against Jana Spegel and Sandra Mikolaschek from Germany.
“It was great to win the gold with Flora,” said Shackleton. “We have very similar styles so tactically we know what we’re expecting from each other and how we like to set up the points. I think we worked great as a team, and we can be proud of it as a first performance together.”
Women’s class 20 RR
Bly Twomey and 22-year-old class 8 Elena Elli from Italy were beaten 3-0 by World and Paralympic team medallist Danielle Rauen from Brazil and Tamano Yamazaki from Japan and 3-0 by European champions Karolina Pek and Natalia Partyka from Poland. They kept their hopes of a medal alive with a 3-1 win against Altynay Yerzhankyzy and Raushan Orynbayeva from Kazakhstan and secured the bronze in emphatic fashion with a 3-0 win against Jessica Alzate Mejia and Manuela Mazuera Londono, the Youth Parapan American Games bronze medallists from Colombia.
“When I found out we were playing in WD20 I never thought we would get a medal,” said Twomey. “It’s been great playing with players from other countries as I got to know them better and I had fun playing against different classes as they all have different styles. I’m excited to see what happens in future tournaments.”
Reflecting on reaching her first singles final yesterday, Twomey said: “I was very pleased to reach my first final. She (Smilla Sand) changed her playing style from the Europeans – when I played cross-court she started attacking that ball instead of defending and in the fifth set she played down the line a lot more when I was waiting on the forehand. It was an unbelievable experience, and it makes me feel more confident in myself that I can reach the top.”
Men’s class 4
Andrew Guy and Chris Ryan were drawn in a tough group and lost 3-0 to PanAmerican team gold medallists Guilherme Marcio Da Costa and Iranildo Conceicao Espindola from Brazil and 3-0 to World and European doubles bronze medalist Tomasz Jakimczuk from Poland and class 2 World number six Jiri Suchanek from Czechia.
Men’s class 14
Teenagers Jacob Wicks and Daniel Thomson lost 3-0 to Junki Itai and Arufuahirokazu Tateishi from Japan, 3-1 to Pablo Romero Parreno and Gonzalo Rodriguez from Spain and 3-0 to Daniel Horut from Czechia and Ben Despineux from Belgium but can both be proud of they way they performed on their international debuts.
Men’s class 18
Shae Thakker and Theo Bishop were beaten 3-0 by the very strong Belgian partnership of former class 8 World number one Marc Ledoux and class nine World number one Laurens Devos but progressed from group 2 after a 3-0 win against Azamat Orazbek and Ali Makhulbekov from Kazakhstan. In the quarterfinal they lost 3-0 to David Pulpan and Vit Spalek from Czechia.
Craig Allen and Ricard Sabio Ruiz from Spain lost 3-0 to Mateo Boheas and Clement Berthier from France but progressed from group 1 with a 3-0 win against Temitope Ogunsanya from Nigeria and Mio Wagner from Germany. They lost their quarterfinal against Ledoux and Devos 3-0.
Mixed class 4 RR
Andrew Guy and Beth Kyte lost 3-0 to Miguel Angel Toledo from Spain and Aino Tapola from Finland and 3-0 to Sylvain Noel from France and Jana Spegel from Germany. They lost their final match to Chris Ryan and his German partner Janina Sommer 3-0 with Ryan and Sommer taking third place in the round-robin event after losing 3-0 to Noel and Spegel and 3-1 to Toledo and Tapola.
Mixed class 14
Theo Bishop and Bly Twomey started with a 3-1 win against Ricard Sabio Ruiz from Spain and Camelia Ciripan from Romania and then beat the Spanish partnership of Gonzalo Rodriguez and Pilar Gonzalez 3-1. They were just edged out in their final group match by Sam Gustafsson and Smilla Sand from Sweden, 11-9 in the deciding set, but progressed to the quarterfinals where they faced Arufuahirokazu Tateishi from Japan and class 6 European bronze medallist Gabriela Constantin from Romania. Bishop and Twomey made a great start and led 2-0 but Tateishi and Constantin took a close third set 11-9 and after winning the fourth set 11-6 to level at 2-2 they secured the win 11-8 in the deciding set.
Having lost a very close quarterfinal in the singles yesterday 20-year-old Bishop was left to reflect that success in table tennis can depend on the finest of margins.
“I think there is a lot I can take from this tournament,” he said. “To get to the quarterfinals in all my events is a really positive sign although losing in all three, twice in the fifth set, was really painful. There are still a lot of positives to take away – especially beating the World number 16 – and overall, I think I played quite well. Being so close and not quite managing to get over the line hurts but it just gives me even more motivation going back into training, knowing I am so close and making a few small changes can make a huge difference going forward.”
Mixed class 17-20
Shae Thakker teamed up with Italian Elena Elli and they lost their first match to World mixed doubles champion Paulo Salmin Filho and Danielle Rauen from Brazil 3-0. A hard-fought 3-2 win against Ali Makhulbekov and Altynay Yerzhankyzy from Kazakhstan kept them in contention but they did not progress after a 3-1 loss to Mio Wagner and World and European doubles silver medallist Stephanie Grebe from Germany.