Ross Wilson

Date and place of birth: 05/06/1995, Kent
Home town: Minster
Lives: Sheffield
Family: Parents Sally and Scott, sisters Katie and Kirsty
TT Class: 8
Current world ranking: 4
TT Style: Attacking
International debut: 2011, Hungary
Major titles: Commonwealth champion 2018, World champion 2018

In brief:

Ross won bronze in the men’s class 6-8 team event in London 2012 at the age of just 17 and overcame a series of injuries and two years out of the sport to qualify for Rio 2016 and take bronze again in the men’s class 6-8 team. In April 2018 he won gold in the men’s class 6-10 singles at the Commonwealth Games in Australia and in October 2018 became World champion after beating the double Paralympic champion from China in the final. He competed in his third Paralympic Games in Tokyo and took bronze in the men’s class 8 team event with Aaron McKibbin and Billy Shilton.

Ross’s story

Ross first played table tennis while on holiday at Center Parcs and clearly showed an immediate talent for the game as a watching member of staff, noting the Arsenal shirt he was wearing, christened him the Thierry Henry of table tennis.  “I loved it straight away,” recalls Ross. “I’m very competitive so I wanted to win and that made me enjoy it even more. Mum and dad bought me a table for Christmas and I went on from there.”

Ross’s natural skill brought him success in abled bodied table tennis and as a junior he was ranked in the top ten in the country, winning two National doubles titles. However, as he got older it became clear that some physical problem was affecting his development although exhaustive medical tests failed to discover the cause. Finally, in 2011 he was diagnosed with multiple epiphyseal dysplasia, which affects the growing ends of the bones, after his cousin was diagnosed with the same condition by a geneticist.

“The diagnosis was a turning point for me,” admits Ross, “as I was on the verge of deciding whether or not to carry on playing. I wasn’t getting selected for the able bodied team because they knew I had something wrong with me but I wasn’t getting selected for Para table tennis as they couldn’t find what was wrong with me. I didn’t think I was getting anywhere. Then when I was diagnosed I went to Hungary and was classified and started training with the GB Para squad.”

Ross’s progress was rapid and his first international season culminated in a silver medal in the men’s class 8 singles at the European Championships in 2011. He was the youngest member of the GB table tennis team in London 2012 but belied his inexperience by finishing fourth in the singles, having led the Chinese world number one 2-0 in his semi-final, and then playing superbly to clinch the team bronze with Will Bayley and Aaron McKibbin.

“London was everything I could have wished for,” says Ross. “I expected to enjoy it but be quite nervous but I had no nerves and I was just enjoying representing my country. Everyone was getting behind us and it was an amazing feeling. I so wanted a medal and to get so close in the singles was horrible but to come back stronger with the boys in the team and get a bronze was amazing."

Following the London Games Ross, who was ranked two in the world at the end of 2012, was side-lined for two years with a shoulder injury but took the setback with a typically positive approach, showing a maturity beyond his years.

In 2014 he was finally able to return to competition and came back with a bang by taking gold in the men’s class 8 singles at the Cote d’Azur International in October. He began 2015 with silver medals in Hungary and Italy but was then side-lined with injuries to his knee and elbow. Strained muscles in his back then hampered his preparations for the European Championships but despite this he performed well at his first major championship since London 2012, beating top ten players to reach the quarter-finals of the singles and taking bronze in the team event with Aaron McKibbin.

Despite a preparation again affected by injury Ross recovered from the disappointment of two narrow losses in the singles event in Rio to take bronze in the men’s class 6-8 team event, combining with Aaron McKibbin to beat World champions China in the bronze medal match.

In 2017 Ross won gold in the men’s class 8 singles at the German Open and took bronze in singles and team events at the European Championships, coming agonisingly close to beating the World number one Viktor Didukh in the semi-finals of the men’s class 8 singles in a narrow 3-2 loss.

Ross was selected to represent Team England in the Commonwealth Games in April 2018 and he took gold in the men’s class 6-10 singles, storming back after losing the first set to beat GB and England team mate Kim Daybell 3-1. In October he achieved his dream of becoming World champion, beating the double Paralympic champion from China, Zhao Shuai, in the final of men’s class 8 to take the gold.

“I really can’t believe it,” he said. “It is just about pushing on now. There is so much room for improvement still and when I get back in the training hall I’ll look at ways to do that. It has been an amazing year from me with the Commonwealths and now this – I really can’t believe it to be honest.”

In 2019 Ross struggled to find his very best form but still won singles medals in Slovenia, Japan, Finland and Netherlands. At the European Championships he lost in the quarter-finals of the men’s class 8 singles to eventual runner-up Maksym Nikolenko from Ukraine but won team silver with Aaron McKibbin and Billy Shilton.

In the build-up to Tokyo Ross’s preparation was once again hampered by injury and he was disappointed to lose in the quarter-finals of the men’s class 8 singles. However, he came back to win bronze in the men’s class 8 team event with Aaron McKibbin and Billy Shilton, playing a great match in defeat to Zhao in the semi-final, and is now focused on defending his World and Commonwealth titles in 2022.

“Win or lose sometimes you’ve just got to enjoy the whole journey and that is what I did,” he said. “I am just so proud to actually be here and to represent ParalympicsGB again at my third Games. It is such a special thing and sometimes you take it for granted and with this one I really haven’t.”

Take 5 with Ross:

Most admired sportsman - Lebron James

Three famous people you would most like to have a drink with - Usain Bolt, Ronda Rousey, Conor McGregor

Favourite film - Apocalypto

Ideal holiday - Gold Coast, Australia

Three words that describe you best - fighter, kind, determined

and finally - Ross was a keen swimmer but chose table tennis over swimming as a career

2021 Results:

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

2019 Results:

Dutch Open – bronze, men’s singles (class 8)

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

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

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

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

2018 Results:

World Championships, Celje, Slovenia – gold, men’s singles (class 8)

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

Commonwealth Games, Australia – gold, men’s singles (class 6-10)

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

2017 Results:

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

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

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

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

2016 Results:

Paralympic Games, Rio de Janeiro - bronze, men’s teams (class 6-8); group stages, men’s singles (class 8)

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

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

2015 Results:

European Championships, Vejle, Denmark - bronze, men’s teams (class 8), QF, men’s singles (class 8)

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

Hungarian Open - silver, men’s singles (class 8)

2014 Results:

Cote d’Azur International, France - gold, men’s singles (class 8)

Career Highlights:

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

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

2018:    World Championships, Celje, Slovenia – gold, men’s singles (class 8)

Commonwealth Games, Australia – gold, men’s singles (class 6-10)

2017:    European Championships, Slovenia – bronze, men’s singles (class 8); bronze, men’s teams (class 8)

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

2016:    Paralympic Games, Rio de Janeiro - bronze, men’s teams (class 6-8)

2015:    European Championships, Vejle, Denmark - bronze, men’s teams (class 8)

2014:    Cote d’Azur International, France - gold, men’s singles (class 8)

2012:    Paralympic Games, London - bronze, men’s teams (class 6-8)

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

2011:    European Championships, Split, Croatia - silver, men’s singles (class 8)