Commonwealth champion Joshua Stacey and World bronze medallists Aaron McKibbin and Martin Perry are included in a squad of eight British Para Table Tennis athletes competing in the Greek Para Open in Argostoli on the island of Kefalonia, from April 28-30.
Stacey will be competing in his first international tournament since taking silver in the men’s class 9 singles at the World Championships in Spain last November and is looking to step up another level in Paralympic qualification year.
“I want to try and make a statement in Greece,” said the 23-year-old Welshman, “leading into Slovenia which is normally the strongest of all tournaments within the year. I want to show that the world silver wasn’t a fluke and I’m here to stay.”
Having won his first major title at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham last summer, Stacey has reached a career-high of world number two and proved himself to be the strongest challenger to the dominance of World number one Laurens Devos, the World, Paralympic and European champion from Belgium who has not lost a match in men’s class 9 since 2015 and is also competing in the Greek Para Open.
“It is massively important to me that I take another step up this season,” said Stacey, who was beaten 3-1 by Devos in the World final. “I don’t want to feel like it is an achievement to medal at a major tournament, I want to make sure that my eyes are on gold – I’m not satisfied with a semi-final or final. I think that is how my mindset is going to shift this year and what I am going to try and pursue. I’ll carry on knocking on Laurens’ door and eventually take him out.”
Also competing in Argostoli are Pathway athletes Chris Ryan, Ryan Henry, Max Flint and Jack Stockdale and Simon Heaps.
The full British squad for the Greek Para Open is:
Max Flint, 18 - Guildford (class 10)
Simon Heaps, 67 - Milford-on-Sea (class 5)
Ryan Henry, 23 - Ardrossan/Sheffield (class 8)
Aaron McKibbin, 31 - London/Epsom (class 8)
Martin Perry, 28 - Paisley/Dumbarton (class 6)
Chris Ryan 31 - Welwyn Garden City (class 2)
Joshua Stacey, 23 – Cardiff/Sheffield (class 9)
Jack Stockdale, 22 – Romford (class 10)