Bly Twomey

Date of birth: 27/04/2010

Hometown: Brighton

Lives: Brighton

TT Class: 7

Current world ranking: 5

International debut: Costa Brava Spanish Open 2023

Bly has always been sporty and from the age of seven enjoyed swimming, football, horse riding and tennis. She was also the dodgeball champion at her primary school, but it wasn’t until she attended a multi-sports day for SEND and free school meals children in 2021 that she discovered table tennis. 

Her natural talent was spotted immediately by Nick Kreel from Brighton Table Tennis Club and after being invited to attend regularly on Saturdays she immediately fell in love with the club and the sport. Having declined a try-out with GB Para swimming she began to focus on table tennis; within six months she was competing in the National Club League and within a year she had been selected for the BPTT development squad.

She made her international debut in the Costa Brava Spanish Open in March 2023 and two months later won her first international medal when taking bronze in the women’s class 7 singles in the Polish Open. Having been selected for the European Championships in Sheffield she exceeded all expectations by taking bronze in the women’s class 7 singles, beating the Swedish World number six Smilla Sand in her first major championship match, and pushing World champion Kubra Korkut from Turkey all the way despite losing in three close sets.

“I didn’t think about playing the World champion,” said Bly, “I just see someone on the other side of the net. I played quite close sets with her, and I’m really pleased I did that. If I win or lose it’s the taking part and the having fun that counts. I think table tennis is amazing and if I didn’t have it I wouldn’t be myself. I didn’t think I was going to get out of my group, so I wasn’t expecting a medal in my first major tournament, and I’m really pleased.”

After taking silver in the Finland Open – losing in five close sets to Smilla Sand in the final – Bly won her first title at the French Open, beating Sand in three sets and then beating the Chinese World number three Wang Rui 3-0 to take the gold.

“In Finland I was so nervous about the match as it was my first final,” she said, “but in this one (against Wang), I felt less nervous, and I just focused on every point at a time. Winning gold means a lot because this is my first factor 40 tournament and I believe now that I can get to the Paralympics and win gold. I just feel I’m learning all the time.”

With two wins against higher-ranked opponents in France Bly moved up to number five in the world rankings and after taking gold in Italy and Poland her qualification for the Paralympic Games in Paris was confirmed in April 2024.

“Competing in a Paralympics is all I’ve been dreaming of since I started playing sport,” she said. “I’ve always wanted to go to the Paralympics, and it would mean a lot to go to Paris because I’ve only been playing for two years, and I will only be 14.”

Bly, who was born with cerebral palsy, attends Cardinal Newman Catholic School who are very supportive of her table tennis career and trains regularly with World champion Will Bayley who is also based at Brighton TTC.

2024 Results:

Polish Open – gold, women’s singles (class 7); bronze, women’s doubles (class 14)

Lignano Masters Para Open, Italy – gold, women’s singles (class 7); gold, women’s doubles (class 14)

2023 Results:

French Open – gold, women’s singles (class 7); silver, women’s doubles (class 14); QF, mixed doubles (class 14)

Finland Open – silver, women’s singles (class 7); bronze, women’s doubles (class 20); QF, mixed doubles (class 14)

European Championships, Sheffield, UK – bronze, women’s singles (class 7); L16, mixed doubles (class 14)

Polish Open – bronze, women’s singles (class 7); 3rd, women’s doubles (class 20 RR); group stages, mixed doubles (class 14)

Costa Brava Spanish Open – group stages, women’s singles (class 8); group stages, women’s doubles (class 20); group stages, mixed doubles (class 17-20)