Joshua Stacey

Joshua’s story
Joshua started playing table tennis at the age of 13 when coach Simon Oyler came to his school and ran a ‘come and try’ session after which he was hooked although in his own words he wasn’t very good.

“I’ve always liked to be the best at what I do,” he admits, “and when I first started playing table tennis during a PE lesson at school I was pretty bad. But as I started to play more – going to a local club and playing two or three times a week – I understood the sport more and I started to enjoy how different it can be on any given day and the pressure that comes with it. I wouldn’t say I loved it immediately – it was more that as I played it a bit more I found out more about it and it became interesting. I enjoyed the challenge and the fact that you had to work hard to get better.”

Stacey attributes his work ethic to his grandfather who he credits as the person who has influenced him the most.

“He came from a large family and didn’t have a lot growing up,” he said. “From what I have seen he has always worked as hard as he can and never complained when things haven’t gone his way.”

That ability to see the positive in any situation helped Stacey when he was diagnosed with cerebral palsy (CP) at the age of 17. During a visit to Grantham College, where Stacey was combining his table tennis with his studies, BPTT coach Mat Kenny noticed that the young Welshman was walking on his toes and suggested that there may be a physical reason for his inability to place the weight fully on his feet.

“The Pathway manager Shaun Marples chased it up pretty quickly,” explained Stacey, “and I went to see a specialist. They decided I needed an MRI scan and it came back that I had brain damage on one side of my brain which was consistent with a CP diagnosis. For me, knowing I had CP wasn’t really a big thing in terms of how it would affect me in general because I had lived with it and it didn’t really affect me in a negative way.

“The one thing that my coaches had tried to get me to do was to balance the weight on both of my legs – I had never realised that I couldn’t do it because of the CP and I used to get frustrated because my brain was saying do it but my body could never quite manage it. Little things like my flexibility was never as good even though I stretched twice as much as everyone else – which I had just shrugged off as being my body – made sense when I had my diagnosis. I wasn’t shocked by it – I always thought there might be something wrong but I never thought it was something as drastic as brain damage. Once I got the diagnosis it just meant I would get more opportunities so I’m not going to complain about it now.”

Making his international debut at the Belgium Open later that year Josh made an immediate impact, taking bronze in the men’s class 9 singles and gold in the team event. He followed up with bronze in the US Open and was selected to represent Wales in the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast in April 2018 where he produced a great performance to beat the class 10 South African Theo Cogill 3-2 to win the bronze medal match. The 18 year old held his nerve to take the deciding set 11-8 after Cogill had taken the fourth 13-11 to level at 2-2.

“The match was really good,” said Joshua. “I had to really fight to get the win and Theo put me under a lot of pressure. To just compete in a Commonwealth Games is a massive achievement for me and then to medal is just surreal. I came to the Games looking to gain experience on a massive stage and I was lucky enough to perform when it mattered and take a medal. The Games has been a really good experience and I couldn’t have asked for a better team to support me.”

Having taken further medals in Italy and Slovakia, Joshua won his first singles title at the Czech Open in September, beating GB team mate Ashley Facey Thompson in the final, and went on to take gold in the team event with Facey Thompson and Kim Daybell.

“The team event was a good experience for me,” he said. “Ash and Kim will be the team for the next few years so just to be part of the team was good for my confidence. The doubles with Kim was positive – he’s very experienced so it helped me to settle into the matches knowing he was accustomed to being in these situations. Winning gold is a great feeling as it means I’ve had the perfect tournament on paper.”

Joshua completed the 2018 season by taking silver in the Spanish Open where he beat the Slovakia Open gold medallist Lev Kats from Ukraine 3-0 in the semi-finals before losing the final 3-0 to the very experienced former European medallist Dezso Bereczki from Hungary.

In 2019 Joshua continued to improve, reaching the men’s class 9 singles final in Italy, Czech Republic and Finland and breaking into the world’s top 10 in his class. With Ashley Facey Thompson he won team gold in Japan, Czech Republic and Finland and he won his first major championship medal at the European Championships in Sweden, taking bronze in the men’s class 10 team event with Ashley and Kim Daybell.

Having completed his studies at Grantham College Joshua is now based in Sheffield where he trains full time with the Performance Squad at the EIS and is focused on qualification for the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo.

“Sport has taught me what commitment really means,” he says, “and I am forever grateful to anyone who has helped me on my journey this far.”

Take 5 with Josh
Sporting event you would most like a ticket for: World Cup Final
Person who has influenced you most: My grandad
Three words that describe you best – honest, persistent, committed
Three famous people (alive or dead) you would most like to have a drink with – Roger Federer, Jan-
Ove Waldner, Pele
Hobbies, interests: Playing Fortnite
and finally – Josh’s alternative career would be a physiotherapist

2020 Results:
Costa Brava Spanish Open – silver, men’s singles (class 9); bronze, men’s teams (class 9-10)
Polish Open – gold, men’s singles (class 9)

2019 Results:
China Open – bronze, men’s singles (class 9); silver, men’s teams (class 9-10)
Finland Open – silver, men’s singles (class 9); gold, men’s teams (class 9)
European Championships, Sweden – bronze, men’s teams (class 10); QF, men’s singles (class 9)
Czech Open – silver, men’s singles (class 9); gold, men’s teams (class 9)
Japan Open – QF, men’s singles (class 9); gold, men’s teams (class 9)
Polish Open – bronze, men’s singles (class 9); QF, men’s team (class 9-10)
Slovenia Open – bronze, men’s singles (class 9); bronze men’s teams (class 9)
Lignano Master Open, Italy – silver, men’s singles (class 9); gold, men’s teams (class 10)

2018 Results:
Spanish Open – silver, men’s singles (class 9)
Czech Open – gold, men’s singles (class 9); gold, men’s teams (class 10)
Slovakia Open – bronze, men’s singles (class 9); silver, men’s teams (class 9-10)
Slovenia Open – QF, men’s singles (class 9); QF, men’s teams (class 9)
Commonwealth Games, Gold Coast, Australia – bronze, men’s singles (class 6-10)
Lignano Master Open, Italy – bronze, men’s singles (class 9); gold, men’s teams (class 9-10)

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

Career Highlights:
2020: Polish Open – gold, men’s singles (class 9)
2019: Finland Open – silver, men’s singles (class 9); gold, men’s teams (class 9)
European Championships, Sweden – bronze, men’s teams (class 10); QF, men’s singles (class 9)
Czech Open – silver, men’s singles (class 9); gold, men’s teams (class 9)
Japan Open – gold, men’s teams (class 9)
Lignano Master Open, Italy – silver, men’s singles (class 9); gold, men’s teams (class 10)
2018: Spanish Open – silver, men’s singles (class 9)
Czech Open – gold, men’s singles (class 9); gold, men’s teams (class 10)
Commonwealth Games, Gold Coast, Australia – bronze, men’s singles (class 6-10)
Lignano Master Open, Italy – bronze, men’s singles (class 9); gold, men’s teams (class 9-10)
2017: Belgium Open – bronze, men’s singles (class 9); gold, men’s teams (class 9)

Further results are available at: http://stats.ipttc.org/en/profiles/5858/tournaments

Josh Stacey Euros 2019

Date and place of birth: 25/02/2000, Cardiff
Home town: Cardiff
Lives: Rotherham
TT Class: 9
Current world ranking: 8
TT Style: Attacking
International debut: 2017