Recently crowned US Open champion Ashley Facey is looking to follow-up his men’s class 9 singles gold medal in Texas earlier this month with another medal-winning performance in the 2024 ITTF Brazilian Para Open taking place in Sao Paulo from February 1-4.
It was a first international singles title for the Sheffield-based Londoner and two-time Paralympian who moved to British cycling after the Tokyo Paralympic Games but returned to the British Para table tennis team in January last year.
“I’m very happy with myself,” said Facey. “Obviously every tournament I go to I want to perform and hopefully win – that is my main goal – and finally I did it after so many years. It was good to get a title under my belt.”
The 28-year-old admits that a disappointing performance at the European Championships in Sheffield last year has proved to be the catalyst for his impressive start to the 2024 season.
“The Europeans didn’t go my way,” he said, “but it did me a favour to be fair and changed the way I played. I sat down with Dave (coach David McBeath) and looked at the way I played and how I could change my game and work consistently on what I need to do in the (training) hall. So, the Europeans was a blessing in disguise because as a result I changed my game to what I want and that’s something I’m proud of.”
Facey also won gold in the US Open class 18 doubles with teammate Joshua Stacey and with qualification for Paris still in the balance success in doubles could also prove crucial as for the first time athletes are able to qualify on their singles and doubles ranking.
“I’m not really focused on one more than the other,” he said. “I just want to give myself a chance in the singles and in the doubles. All I can do is try to win every match that I can. I know that doubles is an important event now so I’ll see what I can do in both singles and doubles in Brazil and just take every match step-by-step.”
Also hoping to follow up her US Open singles gold medal and improve her chances of Paralympic qualification in Brazil is Tokyo team medallist Megan Shackleton and the squad is completed by European silver medallist Grace Williams and Confirmation athletes Theo Bishop and Chris Ryan.
The qualification period for the 2024 Paralympic Games finishes at the end of March and there will be a final chance for athletes to qualify at the Paralympic World Qualification Tournament taking place in Thailand from May 23-25.
The full British squad for the ITTF Brazilian Para Open is:
Ashley Facey, 28, London (Stratford)/Sheffield – class 9
Chris Ryan, 32, Welwyn Garden City – class 2
Grace Williams, 20, Llanfyllin/Sheffield (class 8)
Megan Shackleton, 24, Todmorden/Sheffield – class 4
Theo Bishop, 20, Rossendale/Sheffield – class 7