Billy Shilton

Date and place of birth: 09/10/1998, Gloucester
Home town: Stonehouse
Lives: Sheffield
Family: Mum Lisa, dad Michael, brothers Jacob and Stanley
TT Class: 8
Current world ranking: 12
TT Style: Fast offensive player
International debut: 2013, Belgian Open

In brief:

Billy made a major impact at the European Championships in 2015 at the age of 16, taking bronze in the men’s class 7 singles and silver with Will Bayley in the men’s class 7 team event. Following this he was reclassified as a class 8 and missed out on qualification for the Paralympic Games in 2016 although he went to Rio as part of the ParalympicsGB Paralympics Inspiration Programme. He has continued to improve, achieving wins against top 10 opponents and winning team medals at the European Championships in 2017 and 2019 with Ross Wilson and Aaron McKibbin. He made his Paralympic debut in Tokyo and took bronze in the men’s class eight team with Ross Wilson and Aaron McKibbin as well as reaching the quarter-finals of the men’s class 8 singles.

Billy’s story:

Billy started playing table tennis at the age of 12 after watching his dad Michael play in a local league tournament. Having been diagnosed at the age of five with Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT), a group of inherited conditions that damage nerves outside the brain and spine and also affects his father and grandfather, he was looking for a sport that he could play competitively.

“I used to play football before the problems with my legs got worse and I couldn’t play anymore,” he recalls. “I find it difficult to move around and in terms of table tennis it affects my speed around the table, movement and power but I loved table tennis from day one. It is fast and exciting and you really have to concentrate.”

After playing the local league Billy was spotted by the GB Para squad at the UK School Games in 2012 and invited to attend a development camp from which he progressed to the Pathway Squad. He made his international debut in Belgium in 2013 where he was initially classified in class 8 but two months later he went to the US Open in San Diego where, at the request of the GB team, he was assessed again by the classifiers, who overturned the original decision and confirmed him as a class 7 player.

In 2014 Billy continued to progress and won his first gold medal at the Slovenia Open in May, combining with Will Bayley and Paul Karabardak to win the men’s class 7 team event. He followed that with his first individual medal - a bronze in the Spanish Open - and finished the season on a high by taking gold in the men’s class 7 team event in the Cote d’Azur International with Swedish partner Nicklas Westerberg.

Billy began 2015 by taking gold in the men’s teams and bronze in the singles in Hungary and he continued to improve, teaming up with Will Bayley to beat World champions Spain and take gold in Slovenia and then beating the powerful Chinese team in Germany. A former pupil at Maidenhill School in Stonehouse, Gloucestershire he moved to Sheffield in July 2015 to train full time with the GB team.

Having been selected for his first major championship - the European Championships in Denmark - he exceeded all expectations in reaching the semi-finals of the singles, beating the reigning European champion and World number three Mykhaylo Popov in the quarter-finals. Billy then combined with Will Bayley to take silver in the men’s class 7 team event - beating World champions Spain again and only losing to the very strong Ukraine team in the final.

Following the European Championships the ITTF Para Table Tennis Committee made the decision to look at his classification and he competed in Belgium in class 8 to allow the international classifier to observe him and make a decision regarding his future classification. He responded with a superb performance to win his first singles gold medal and was subsequently confirmed as a class 8 player.

Billy finished the 2015 season by taking team bronze in the China Open and singles bronze in Costa Rica. He finished just outside a qualification place for the 2016 Paralympic Games but went to Rio as part of ParalympicsGB’s Paralympic Inspiration Programme.

In 2017 Billy gained further experience of major championships, competing in the World Team Championships with Aaron McKibbin and taking bronze in the men’s class 8 team event at the European Championships with McKibbin and Ross Wilson.

Although he narrowly missed out on qualification for the World Championships in 2018 Billy continued to show improvement with some good results including a win against the Rio 2016 Paralympic silver medallist from Hungary Andras Csonka in the Slovenia Open. After taking silver in Poland and Thailand and gold in the Czech Republic in 2019 he was disappointed to be knocked out of the men’s class 8 singles in the group stages at the European Championships although he went on to take team silver with Ross Wilson and Aaron McKibbin.

Having missed out on automatic qualification for the Paralympic Games Billy reached the semi-finals of the World Qualification Tournament in Slovenia in June 2021 and was subsequently awarded a wild card to compete in Tokyo. He more than justified that by producing some superb performances, coming from 2-1 down to beat the hugely experienced former World number one and Rio 2016 bronze medallist Piotr Grudzien from Poland to reach the quarter-finals of the men’s class 8 singles and then beating the Rio 2016 Paralympic silver medallist Andras Csonka to secure a bronze medal in the men’s class 8 team event.

“I’m really happy with how I’ve performed in singles and team events,” he said. “My expectations were to come and try and enjoy the experience and play the best I could. I wasn’t aiming to do anything - just take every match as it comes and to come away with a medal with Aaron and Ross is an amazing feeling. Losing in the quarter-finals and being one match away from a medal in the singles was really hard for me to take and I think I can use that as motivation. I can also use winning bronze in the team event as motivation to get to the final next time.”

Take 5 with Billy:

If you had to appear in a reality TV show which would it be - I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here

Three famous people you would most like to have a drink with - Usain Bolt, Muhammad Ali, Mo Farah

Alternative occupation - sports psychologist

Sporting event you would most like a ticket for - Olympic table tennis final

Three words that describe you best - funny, self-confident, hard working

and finally - Billy’s superstition involves shutting all the cupboard doors in his room before he goes to bed

2021 Results:

Paralympic Games, Tokyo – bronze, men’s teams (class 8); QF, men’s singles (class 8)

World Qualification Tournament, Slovenia – SF, men’s singles (class 8)

2020 Results:

Costa Brava Spanish Open – silver, men’s teams (class 8); QF, men’s singles (class 8)

Polish Open – silver, men’s singles (class 8); silver, men’s teams (class 8)

2019 Results:

China Open – QF, men’s singles (class 8); 4th, men’s teams RR (class 8)

Finland Open – silver, men’s teams (class 8); QF, men’s singles (class 8)

European Championships, Sweden – silver, men’s teams (class 8); group stages, men’s singles (class 8)

Czech Open – gold, men’s singles (class 8); QF, men’s teams (class 8)

Bangkok Open, Thailand – silver, men’s singles (class 8); bronze, men’s teams (class 10)

Japan Open – silver, men’s teams (class 8); QF, men’s singles (class 8)

Polish Open – silver, men’s singles (class 8); gold, men’s teams (class 8)

Slovenia Open – bronze, men’s teams (class 8); L16, men’s singles (class 8)

Lignano Master Open, Italy – silver, men’s teams (class 8); L16 men’s singles (class 8)

2018 Results:

Spanish Open – QF, men’s singles (class 8); bronze, men’s teams (class 8)

Slovenian Open – QF, men’s singles (class 8); QF, men’s teams (class 8)

Slovakia Open – silver, men’s teams (class 8); QF men’s singles (class 8)

Lignano Master Open, Italy – bronze, men’s team (class 8); QF men’s singles (class 8)

2017 Results:

Spanish Open – silver, men’s teams (class 8); bronze, men’s singles (class 8)

Belgium Open – gold, men’s teams (class 9); bronze, men’s singles (class 8)

European Championships, Lasko, Slovenia – bronze, men’s teams (class 8); L16 men’s singles (class 8)

Bayreuth Open, Germany – bronze, men’s teams (class 8); QF, men’s singles (class 8)

World Team Championships, Slovakia – 7th men’s class 8

Slovenia Open – bronze, men’s teams (class 8); last 16, men’s singles (class 8)

Lignano Master Open, Italy – last 16, men’s singles (class 8)

2016 Results:

US Open, Las Vegas - silver, men’s teams (class 8); QF, men’s singles (class 8)

Romania International Open - QF, men’s singles (class 8); 4th, men’s RR team (class 9)

Romania Junior Open - gold, men’s singles (class 8)

PTT Spanish Open - QF, men’s singles (class 8); QF, men’s teams (class 8)

Slovakia Open - last 16, men’s singles (class 8); QF, men’s teams (class 8)

Slovenia Open - last 16, men’s singles (class 8); group stages, men’s teams (class 8)

Lignano Master Open, Italy - group stages, men’s singles (class 8); group stages, men’s singles (class 8)

2015 Results:

Copa Costa Rica - bronze, men’s singles (class 8)

China Open - bronze, men’s teams (class 8-10); group stages, men’s singles (class 8)

Belgian Open - gold, men’s singles (class 8)

European Championships, Vejle, Denmark - bronze, men’s singles (class 7); silver, men’s teams (class 7)

Czech Open - bronze, men’s singles (class 7); bronze, men’s teams (class 6-7)

Bayreuth Open, Germany - silver, men’s teams (class 7); group stages, men’s singles (class 7)

Slovenia Open - gold, men’s teams (class 7); last 16 men’s singles (class 7)

Lignano Master Open, Italy - group stages, men’s singles (class 7); QF men’s teams (class 7)

Hungarian Open - gold, men’s teams (class 6-7); bronze, men’s singles (class 7)

2014 Results:

Cote d’Azur International, France - gold, men’s teams (class 7); QF men’s singles (class 7)

Spanish Open - bronze, men’s singles (class 7); silver, men’s teams (class 6-7)

Romania Open - bronze, men’s teams (class 6-7)

Slovenia Open - gold, men’s teams (class 7); group stages, men’s singles (class 7)

Lignano Master Open, Italy - group stages, men’s singles (class 7); group stages, men’s teams (class 6-7)

Career Highlights:

2021:    Paralympic Games, Tokyo – bronze, men’s teams (class 8); QF, men’s singles (class 8)

2019:    European Championships, Sweden – silver, men’s teams (class 8)

Czech Open – gold, men’s singles (class 8)

Bangkok Open, Thailand – silver, men’s singles (class 8)

Polish Open – silver, men’s singles (class 8); gold, men’s teams (class 8)

2017:    Belgium Open – gold, men’s teams (class 9)

European Championships, Lasko, Slovenia – bronze, men’s teams (class 8)

2016:    US Open, Las Vegas - silver, men’s teams (class 8)

Romania Junior Open - gold, men’s singles (class 8)

2015:    Belgian Open - gold, men’s singles (class 8)

European Championships, Vejle, Denmark - bronze, men’s singles (class 7); silver, men’s teams (class 7)

Bayreuth Open, Germany - silver, men’s teams (class 7)

Slovenia Open - gold, men’s teams (class 7)

Hungarian Open - gold, men’s teams (class 6-7); bronze, men’s singles (class 7)

2014:    Cote d’Azur International, France - gold, men’s teams (class 7); QF men’s singles (class 7)

Spanish Open - bronze, men’s singles (class 7); silver, men’s teams (class 6-7)

Slovenia Open - gold, men’s teams (class 7)