Former GB wheelchair rugby captain Chris Ryan continues his new career in table tennis as part of a 12-strong British squad for next week’s US Open, which takes place in Fort Worth, Texas from July 3-5.
The 31-year-old from Welwyn Garden City, who swapped the rugby ball for a table tennis bat after leading his team to a historic Paralympic gold medal in Tokyo, is hoping to build on his performance in the Greek Para Open in April when he achieved his first international win and his first medal, a bronze in the men’s class 2 singles.
“I’ve only played two international tournaments and hardly any domestic competitions so getting thrust into these tournaments is great but I’m still in the unknown,” he said. “I just want to come off the table and feel that I have played well. I think I’m getting better at realising when I’m playing well and not just looking at the score; whether I’m doing the things that the coaches here are asking me to work on – staying focused, being positive, keeping balls on the table. I’m just trying to come away from every game thinking that if I lose it wasn’t because I played badly, it’s because they are at a higher level than me at the moment.
“I’d love to win another match next week against a ranked player and that would mean I’d have a world ranking. Obviously, I’d love to win every game but I’m also aware that is probably not going to happen at this stage, but I’ve been training hard and I’ll give it everything I have.”
Ryan will be joined by World champion Will Bayley, who will be bidding to win his sixth consecutive tournament in men’s class 7, Commonwealth champion Jack Hunter-Spivey (men’s class 5), former World and Commonwealth champion Ross Wilson (men’s class 8) and World doubles champion Grace Williams (women’s class 8) who are all looking to improve their chances of qualification for Paris 2024, as well as seven members of the Pathway squad and self-funded Simon Heaps.
The full list of British athletes competing in the US Open is:
Will Bayley, 35, Tunbridge Wells/Brighton (class 7)
Theo Bishop, 20, Rossendale/Sheffield (class 7)
Joe Crouse, 20, Falmouth (class 9)
Max Flint, 19, Guildford (class 10)
Simon Heaps, 67, Milford-on-Sea (class 5)
Ryan Henry, 23, Ardrossan/Sheffield (class 8)
Jack Hunter-Spivey, 28, Liverpool/Sheffield (class 5)
Chris Ryan, 31, Welwyn Garden City (class 2)
Romain Simon, 34, South Woodford (class 3)
Shae Thakker, 19, High Wycombe/Sheffield (class 10)
Grace Williams, 20, Llanfyllin/Sheffield (class 8)
Ross Wilson, 28, Minster/Sheffield (class 8)
Lee York, 34 – Wakefield (class 4)