Kim Daybell

Date and place of birth: 11/08/1992, Sheffield
Home town: Sheffield
Lives: London
Family: Mum Lee Choo and Dad Michael
TT Class: 10
Current world ranking: 14
TT Style: Shakehand grip, attacking
International debut: 2008, German Open

In brief:

Kim made his Paralympic debut in London 2012 and represented ParalympicsGB again in Rio 2016. Having combined his table tennis career with studying medicine he now works part time as a doctor in a North London hospital but continues to win medals at the highest level. After 12 quarter-final defeats in major championships he won his first major medal by taking team silver at the European Championships in 2017 and in 2018 he represented Team England at the Commonwealth Games, winning a silver medal in the men’s class 6-10 singles. In March 2020 he was due to start training full time for Tokyo but instead started working full time at the hospital on the frontline of the NHS’s battle against the coronavirus. Having missed out on automatic qualification for the Paralympic Games Kim needed to win the World Qualification Tournament in Slovenia in June 2021 to secure his place in Tokyo but with only a few weeks to prepare he was beaten in the quarter-finals.

Kim’s story:

Kim Daybell started playing table tennis at the age of nine at home in the garage with his dad and was immediately attracted by the speed and excitement of the sport. He made his international debut in 2008 at the age of 16 and progressed to win gold medals in Germany, Italy, Slovakia and Romania before finishing fourth at the European Championships in 2011 and representing ParalympicsGB at London 2012.

“London 2012 was a real career highlight for me,” said Kim. “To compete in front of a home crowd on the biggest stage sport can offer really was a dream come true. The atmosphere was electric and I doubt if I will ever experience anything quite like it again. It was amazing to see how much people cared and wanted us to achieve.”

In 2013 Kim took a bronze medal in Slovenia and reached the quarter finals of the singles in the European Championships before finishing the season in style with gold in the class 10 singles at the Belgian Open. He began 2014 with a silver medal in the team event in Slovenia and showed improved form at the World Championships in China - reaching the quarter-finals of the singles and recording some great wins in both singles and team event, losing only to the number one and number two in the world. He then confirmed his progress by taking gold in the men’s class 10 singles at the Cote d’Azur International without dropping a set.

Sheffield born Kim was inspired by Paralympic sport and from 2010 he combined his table tennis training with studying for a degree in medicine at Leeds University. Having qualified in 2018 he started working part time as a junior doctor in August at a North London hospital. “Seeing how severely disabled people can benefit from sport and play at such a high level made me want to help other disabled people to do the same,” explains Kim.

Although working part time as a doctor he has ambitions to succeed at the highest level in sport as well. He admits that combining training with his medical studies was hard and in 2015 he made the decision to take a year out of University to prepare for the Paralympic Games in Rio. After bronze medals in Italy and Slovenia he reached the quarter-finals in the singles in the European Championships but was bitterly disappointed to lose in four close sets to Ivan Karabec from the Czech Republic. In the team event he faced the former World and European champion again in the first singles match of the tie between GB and Czech Republic and he produced some great play to come back from 2-1 down to win the fourth set 11-4 and then held his nerve superbly to win the fifth 11-7 for a memorable victory over the World number six.

Although he and Ashley Facey Thompson were subsequently knocked out by France in the quarter finals Kim finished the competition in positive mood.

With more time to train Kim also spent time in Slovenia, training with the national squad and competing in their able-bodied league.  He showed the benefit of that training by reaching the quarter-finals of the able bodied National Championships in 2016. He took singles medals in Italy, Slovenia and Slovakia and recorded a superb win in the group stages of the Paralympic men’s class 10 singles in Rio over the World number two David Jacobs of Indonesia.  Although he was disappointed to lose in the quarter-finals to the Chinese player Lian Hao Kim said afterwards: “I think overall I am pleased. I can look back on it and think that I brought my best table tennis which is always what I said I wanted to do. It’s a shame I couldn’t quite get there today but I think I can be proud of what I achieved.”

In 2017 Kim underlined his talent by taking silver in the men’s class 10 team event at the European Championships with Ashley Facey Thompson – his first major medal after 12 quarter-final defeats in major championships. He was selected to represent Team England in the Commonwealth Games in April 2018 and he took silver in the men’s class 6-10 singles, losing in the final to his England team mate Ross Wilson.

At the World Championships in October Kim was disappointed to lose in the last 16 to the Paralympic team silver medallist from Spain Jorge Cardona.

“It has been difficult,” he admitted. “Starting work as a doctor has not been easy – it’s a very high pressure environment on top of trying to compete which is an equally high pressure environment and I think sometimes it can get on top of you a bit when you are constantly under that pressure. But in the same way that I adjusted when I started medical school I’ll adjust to starting work – it may just take a bit of time.”

Combining his work as a doctor with his international table tennis career proved a challenge for Kim in 2019 but he took singles medals in Italy, Japan, Thailand and China as well as team gold in Italy and Japan. At the European Championships he lost in the quarter-finals of the men’s class 10 singles to Patryk Chojnowski, the World and European champion, but combined with Ashley Facey Thompson and Joshua Stacey to take bronze in the men’s class 10 team event.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March 2020 Kim was about to start training full time for Tokyo but he put his career as an athlete on hold for over a year to take up a full time position as a senior house officer in a North London hospital, working on the frontline for the NHS.

“I settled into it surprisingly quickly and I think everyone did,” he said. “I think if you had said before lockdown ‘it is going to be a global pandemic and you are going to be on the frontline’ it all sounded a lot more scary and actually once it started everyone just looked at each other and put their heads down and got the job done. It shows the resilience of the NHS and the people who work for it and I was pleased that I dealt with it quite well and took it in my stride. When you have proved to yourself that you can come through something like that you know you are able to overcome any challenge.”

Kim’s story became a global one and he was one of four athletes from around the world selected by Olympic and Paralympic worldwide partner P&G to feature in a new digital video series ‘The Measure of Greatness’ that was launched on social media.

With only a few weeks to prepare for the World Qualification Tournament in Slovenia in June 2021 Kim topped his group in men’s class 10 but lost in the quarter-finals to Su Jin Sian, the Asian Championships team bronze medallist from Chinese Taipei and his dream of competing in his third Paralympic Games was shattered when he did not subsequently receive a wild card to compete in Tokyo.

Kim was born with Poland’s syndrome - a rare condition characterised by underdevelopment or absence of the chest muscle on one side of the body; the pectoral on the right side of his body is missing and he was born without any fingers on his right hand; when he was two years old he had a toe transplant to act as fingers. As well as representing his country in Para table tennis he has also played at able bodied level.

Take 5 with Kim:

Sporting event you would most like a ticket for - Champions League Final

Three famous people you would most like to have a drink with - Usain Bolt, Lance Armstrong, John Lennon

Place in the world you would most like to visit - Nepal and northern India

Three words that describe you best - restless, determined, hard-working

If you had to appear in a reality programme which one would it be - Shipwrecked

and finally - Kim has also played badminton at county level and represented England in home nations events

2021 Results:

World Qualification Tournament, Slovenia – QF, men’s singles (class 10)

2019 Results:

China Open – bronze, men’s singles (class 10); group stages, men’s teams (class 9-10)

Finland Open – QF, men’s singles (class 10); bronze, men’s teams (class 10)

European Championships, Sweden – bronze, men’s teams (class 10); QF, men’s singles (class 10)

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

Japan Open – bronze, men’s singles (class 10); gold, men’s teams (class 10)

Polish Open – QF, men’s singles (class 10); QF, men’s teams (class 9-10)

Slovenia Open – QF, men’s singles (class 10); silver, men’s teams (class 10)

Lignano Master Open, Italy – bronze, men’s singles (class 10); gold, men’s teams (class 10)

2018 Results:

World Championships, Slovenia – L16, men’s singles (class 10)

Czech Open – gold, men’s singles (class 10); gold, men’s teams (class 10)

Commonwealth Games, Gold Coast, Australia – silver, men’s singles (class 6-10)

Lignano Master Open, Italy – gold, men’s singles (class 10); gold, men’s teams (class 9-10)

2017 Results:

US Open – silver, men’s singles (class 10); silver, men’s teams (class 9-10)

European Championships, Lasko, Slovenia – silver, men’s teams (class 10); QF, men’s singles (class 10)

Slovenia Open – QF, men’s singles (class 10)

2016 Results:

Paralympic Games, Rio de Janeiro - QF, men’s singles (class 10); QF, men’s teams (class 9-10)

Slovakia Open - bronze, men’s singles (class 10); bronze, men’s teams (class 10)

Slovenia Open - bronze, men’s singles (class 10); QF, men’s teams (class 10)

Lignano Master Open, Italy - bronze, men’s singles (class 10); QF men’s teams (class 9-10)

2015 Results:

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

European Championships, Vejle, Denmark - QF, men’s singles (class 10); QF, men’s teams (class 10)

Slovenia Open - bronze men’s singles (class 10); QF men’s teams (class 10)

Lignano Master Open, Italy - bronze, men’s singles (class 10); bronze, men’s teams (class 10)

2014 Results:

Cote d’Azur International, France - gold, men’s singles (class 10); bronze, men’s teams (class 10)

World Championships, Beijing, China - QF men’s singles (class 10); group stages, men’s teams (class 9-10)

Slovenia Open - silver, men’s teams (class 10); QF men’s singles (class 10)

National Championships - winner, men’s open singles (class 6-11); winner, doubles (mixed class 6-11)

Career Highlights:

2019:    European Championships, Sweden – bronze, men’s teams (class 10); QF, men’s singles (class 10)

2018:    Czech Open – gold, men’s singles (class 10); gold, men’s teams (class 10)

Commonwealth Games, Gold Coast, Australia – silver, men’s singles (class 6-10)

Lignano Master Open, Italy – gold, men’s singles (class 10); gold, men’s teams (class 9-10)

2017:    US Open – silver, men’s singles (class 10); silver, men’s teams (class 9-10)

European Championships, Lasko, Slovenia – silver, men’s teams (class 10)

2016:    Paralympic Games, Rio de Janeiro - QF, men’s singles (class 10); QF, men’s teams (class 9-10)

Slovakia Open - bronze, men’s singles (class 10)

Slovenia Open - bronze, men’s singles (class 10)

Lignano Master Open, Italy - bronze, men’s singles (class 10)

2015:    European Championships, Vejle, Denmark - QF, men’s singles (class 10); QF, men’s teams (class 10)

Slovenia Open - bronze men’s singles (class 10)

Lignano Master Open, Italy - bronze, men’s singles (class 10); bronze, men’s teams (class 10)

2014:    Cote d’Azur International, France - gold, men’s singles (class 10); bronze, men’s teams (class 10)

World Championships, Beijing, China - QF men’s singles (class 10)

Slovenia Open - silver, men’s teams (class 10)

2013:    Belgium Open - gold, men’s singles (class 10); bronze, men’s teams (class 10)

European Championships, Lignano, Italy - QF men’s singles (class 10)

2011:    Romania Open - gold, men’s teams (class 10)

Bayreuth Open, Germany - gold, men’s singles (class 10); gold, men’s teams (class 10)

Slovakia Open - gold, men’s singles (class 10)

2010:    Lignano Master Open - gold, men’s singles (class 10); gold, men’s teams (class 10)