Five British athletes still battling for Paralympic qualification

Five British athletes still battling for Paralympic qualification

After some great performances on day two of the World Qualification Tournament in Lasko, Slovenia five British athletes are still in with a chance of securing qualification for the Paralympic Games. Sue Gilroy (women’s class 4), Fliss Pickard (women’s class 6), Jack Hunter-Spivey (men’s class 5), Billy Shilton (men’s class 8) and Ashley Facey Thompson (men’s class 9) are through to the semi-finals tomorrow but there was disappointment for Martin Perry (men’s class 6) and Kim Daybell (men’s class 10) who must wait and see if they will be awarded wild cards for Tokyo after losing their quarter-final matches today.

Sue Gilroy – women’s class 4

Sue Gilroy came through her final group match against Lisa Hentig, the 28-year-old World and European team medallist from Germany 3-0 to secure first place in her group. She received a bye into tomorrow’s semi-finals where she will play Faten Elelimat from Jordan.

Fliss Pickard – women’s class 6

Fliss Pickard secured top position in her group with a 3-0 victory over Merethe Tveiten from Norway in her final. She plays the Asian Championships bronze medallist Sung Keum Moon from Korea in the semi-finals tomorrow.

Jack Hunter-Spivey – men’s class 5

With one win and one defeat yesterday Jack Hunter-Spivey had to wait until the result of the last match in his group between the Russian Grigorii Isakov and Elias Romero from Argentina today. A 3-1 win for Romero was the perfect result for Hunter-Spivey as it meant he finished top of the group and received a bye into tomorrow’s semi-finals where he will play Ki-young Kim from Korea.

Billy Shilton – men’s class 8

Billy Shilton took on the hugely experienced Belgian Marc Ledoux in the quarter-final and when the former World number one won a tense third set 13-11 to lead 2-1 it looked as if his experience was going to be crucial. But 22-year-old Shilton fought back to take the fourth 11-4 and kept edging ahead in the decider; two good serves gave him four match points and he secured the win with his second. He will play Linus Karlsson from Sweden in tomorrow’s semi-final.

Ashley Facey Thompson – men’s class 9

Ashley Facey Thompson came through his final group match a comfortable 3-0 winner against 15-year-old Marcin Zielinski from Poland which ensured that he finished top of his group and took him into a quarter-final against another teenager 17-year-old Lucas Didier. He made a flying start to the match, taking the first set 11-3 and sealing the second 11-9 with a flashing forehand winner. The third set was nip and tuck all the way and the talented young Frenchman took it 11-9 after a net cord had given him set point and Facey Thompson found the net.

In the fourth set, the 26-year-old Londoner took control and led 10-6 but four match points slipped away and Didier levelled at 10-10. An error from the Frenchman gave Facey Thompson another match point and he made no mistake this time, taking the set 12-10 and the match 3-1 with another forehand winner. He plays the top seed from Ukraine Ivan Mai in the semi-final tomorrow.

Martin Perry – men’s class 6

Martin Perry needed to win his final group match against Piotr Manturz from Poland and despite dropping the third set to his 16-year-old opponent (11-4) he came through 11-9 in the fourth, clinching the match on his fourth match point. With three players winning two matches the group was decided on countback and Perry came out on top to secure a quarter-final against Kazuki Shichino.

The 22-year-old from Japan has quick hands and took the first set 11-9 but Perry started to find the rhythm on his backhand and came back to take the second 11-6. Shichino took the third 11-8 but once again Perry came roaring back to take the fourth 11-4 and level at 2-2. The deciding set was a rollercoaster; Perry led 5-2 and 9-7 but although he fought hard his Japanese opponent was just too strong and took the set 11-9 and the match 3-2.

Kim Daybell – men’s class 10

In his final group match Kim Daybell took on 14-year-old Mio Wagner who has clearly made considerable progress since his only previous international appearance in the Czech Open in 2019. The young German had achieved a 3-2 win against world number 20 Bunpot Sillapong yesterday, but Daybell used all his experience to win 3-0 (6,3,7) and ensure that he progressed to the knockout stages as group winner.

His quarter-final opponent was 17-year-old Su Jin Sian, the Asian Championships team bronze medallist from Chinese Taipei, who Daybell had beaten in four close sets at the Bangkok Open in 2019. But while athletes around the world have been training for months for this tournament Daybell has been working as a doctor on a COVID ward and has had only a few weeks to prepare. Having lost the first set he levelled at 1-1 but was just unable to find his best level today against a talented young opponent who went on to take the match 3-1.