Former men’s class 8 World and Commonwealth champion Ross Wilson is one of 11 athletes from the British Para Table Tennis Performance Squad competing in the ITTF Czech Para Open in Ostrava from June 22-24. The 28-year-old is hoping to build on his bronze medal in the Slovenia Open last month, where he lost a five-set semi-final to the Chinese three-time Paralympic champion Zhao Shuai.
“I think Slovenia went well as a whole considering it was my first competition back and my first towards qualification for Paris,” he said. “There were 20 of the strongest players in the world in my class there so to get a bronze wasn’t a bad result. I’ll take the positives from it and it’s something I want to build on now going forwards. The players list for the Czech Republic looks strong as well so it will be another tough competition but I’m looking to go out there and do my best.”
Since last September Wilson has been combining his table tennis with studying for a psychology degree and achieved a 2:1 in his end of first year exams.
“It’s been helpful to have something else to focus on as well as table tennis,” he said, “and I’m just trying to enjoy it and fortunately, I do really enjoy learning about psychology. I’m not putting all of my emphasis on the results but I’m really happy to have done reasonably well and it is nice to know that I can do that alongside playing table tennis.
“I think I have created a better work life balance. I’m happy at home and happy with my learning and my training so it is all coming together at the moment. I want to keep that going because I think when I’m enjoying everything I perform much better as well so I’m going to keep that in mind.”
Wilson will also travel to Texas for the US Open in July ahead of a home European Championships in September.
“Every competition is important now with qualification for Paris,” he said. “Obviously I’m looking to do well but it is the old saying of take each game as it comes. I’ll just try and focus on my performance for each match and I’m sure the rest will take care of itself.”
A strong British team in Ostrava also includes Rio Paralympic champion and four-time European champion Rob Davies (men’s class 1), Commonwealth champion and World silver medallist Joshua Stacey (men’s class 9), Tokyo medallists Paul Karabardak (men’s class 6), Tom Matthews (men’s class 1), Billy Shilton (men’s class 8) and Megan Shackleton (women’s class 4), World bronze medallist Martin Perry (men’s class 6), World doubles champions Fliss Pickard (women’s class 6) and Grace Williams (women’s class 8) and two-time European team medallist Ashley Facey (men’s class 9).
The full list of British athletes competing in the Czech Para Open is:
Rob Davies, 38 – Brecon (class 1)
Ashley Facey, 28 – London/Sheffield (class 9)
Paul Karabardak, 37 - Swansea (class 6)
Tom Matthews, 30 - Aberdare (class 1)
Martin Perry, 29 - Paisley/Dumbarton (class 6)
Fliss Pickard, 28 - Burnley/Sheffield (class 6)
Megan Shackleton, 24 – Todmorden/Sheffield (class 4)
Billy Shilton, 24 - Stonehouse/Sheffield (class 8)
Joshua Stacey, 23 - Cardiff/Sheffield (class 9)
Grace Williams, 20 - Wrexham/Sheffield (class 8)
Ross Wilson, 28 - Minster/Sheffield (class 8)