Gold for Shackleton, Pickard and Twomey in Italian Open doubles

Gold for Shackleton, Pickard and Twomey in Italian Open doubles

On international women’s day three of the British Para table tennis team’s women shone in the doubles events at the ITTF Lignano Masters Para Open in Italy today, with Fliss Pickard and 13-year-old Bly Twomey taking gold in women’s class 14 and Megan Shackleton combining with Serbia’s Borislava Peric-Rankovic to take gold in women’s class 5-10. World champions Billy Shilton and Paul Karabardak also took bronze in men’s class 14.

Women’s class 5-10

Megan Shackleton teamed up with class 4 World number two Borislava Peric-Rankovic, the former World and Paralympic champion and current European champion from Serbia and they started with a 3-0 win against Sanja Mijatovic and Zorica Popadic from Serbia. They lost 3-2 to Sandra Mikolaschek from Germany and Flora Vautier from France but progressed to the quarterfinals where they beat Irem Oluk and Nergiz Altintas from Turkey 3-1. A 3-1 win against Kang Oejeong and Jung Young A from the Republic of Korea took them through to the final and an opportunity to avenge their earlier defeat by Mikolaschek and Vautier. Shackleton and Peric-Rankovic did it in style, taking the first set 11-8 and then fighting back from 7-3 down to take the second 12-10 with Shackleton clinching the third set 11-8 and the match 3-0 with a forehand winner.

“This was a great end to the tournament,” said Shackleton, “especially after the 3-2 loss against them in the group stage. I’m really happy to have produced some great quality in my matches after feeling disappointed to just be edged out of the singles quarterfinal to a good player. I’m moving forward each time bit-by-bit and I believe it is coming. The last few days I’ve had to dig deep and I’m really glad to have seen that rewarded, especially alongside a player who has won so much in the sport.”

Women’s class 14

Fliss Pickard and Bly Twomey were 3-1 winners against Wong Yue Ching and Chiu Kan Shan from Hong Kong, China and then showed all their grit and determination to beat Camelia Ciripan and Gabriela Constantin from Romania 3-2 and progress to the semi-finals as group winners. They led 2-1 against Lucie Hautiere and Morgen Caillaud and had to dig deep again to take the deciding set 11-6 after the European bronze medallists from France had levelled at 2-2.

That took Pickard and Twomey through to the final and a rematch with Ciripan and Constantin and the British pair produced a great performance to beat the Romanian pair 3-0 (11-6 11-7 11-5).

“It’s incredible to play with Bly,” said Pickard, “what a fighter she is. It’s been a fantastic first tournament together and I feel we really showed what we are capable of in the final.”

“I had an extraordinary time playing with Fliss,” said Twomey, who also won gold in the women’s class 7 singles yesterday. “I had to change my style to a slower pace, and I think our doubles was very good and we progressed massively through our matches. Romania played amazingly in both matches but I think with the help of our coach (BPTT head coach Andrew Rushton) we got the hang of their style. This has given me even more confidence for Singapore next week.”

Men’s class 14

Billy Shilton and Paul Karabardak came through their group with a 3-0 win against Zbynek Lambert and Daniel Horut from Czechia and a 3-1 win against Sam Gustafsson and Jonas Hansson from Sweden. They recovered from dropping the first set to beat Huang Jiaxin and Peng Weinan from China 3-1 in the quarterfinal and started well in their semi-final taking the first set against Ben Despineux and Sayed Youssef but the Belgian/Egyptian partnership combined to good effect and they went on to take the match 3-1.

“I think Paul and I had a really good tournament,” said Shilton, “and I’m really pleased to have taken a medal. I’m really proud of the performance we put in against China – I believe that was the best doubles match we have ever played as they are a great side. I think our best level together is one of the best in the world and we proved it in patches today. We just need to be more consistent in every match, but I’m really pleased with the direction it’s going in.”

“I had a difficult group in the singles,” said Karabardak, “but I thought I played well. I tried my best, but I was gutted as I thought I had some good chances. I think the doubles was excellent again, so I’m really pleased. Sweden was a good win as they are a top team and I’m over the moon with beating China and I think it is the best win we’ve had as a pair. I’m disappointed because I don’t think we performed in the semi-final but overall, I’m really pleased and I think we are getting back to our World Championship level which is really positive moving forward.”

European bronze medallists Aaron McKibbin and Martin Perry lost their opening match in group 2 against Ben Despineux and Sayed Youssef 3-0 and went out after a 3-1 loss to Michael Azulay from Sweden and Steven Roman Chinchilla from Costa Rica.

Men’s class 4

Chris Ryan and Spaniard Daniel Rodriguez, gold medallists in Brazil last month, were 3-0 winners against Edoardo Casati and Manuel Fortuzzi from Italy and were then beaten 3-0 by Oleksandr Yezyk from Ukraine and Cha Soo Yong from Republic of Korea. They progressed to the quarterfinals after a comfortable 3-0 win against Gaspar Mlakar and Ljubisa Gajic from Slovenia and started well against Jang Yeongjin and Joo Young Dae taking the first set and leading 2-1 but the Asian Championship gold medallists from the Republic of Korea levelled at 2-2 and took the deciding set 11-5 for a 3-2 win.

Men’s class 18

Ashley Facey and Joshua Stacey were 3-0 winners against Richard Csejtey and Miroslav Jambor from Slovakia and then beat Tajudeen Agunbiade and Abiola Wali Adesope from Nigeria 3-0 to secure top position in group 1 and a bye into the quarterfinals. They took the first set against Bunpot Sillapakong and Chalermpong Punpoo but could not find their best form and the Asian Championships bronze medallists from Thailand came back to take the match 3-1.