Sue Gilroy MBE

Sue’s story
Born and bred in Barnsley, mother of two Sue initially started playing table-tennis when she was 12 years old but at the age of 18 she became wheelchair-bound and started playing table tennis in a wheelchair two years later. “My dad and mum were my inspiration,” explains Sue. “I used to go and watch them in the league and things just went from there. I then found a wonderful coach called Mick Travis and I joined the GB squad in 1996.”

Sue competed in her first European Championships in 1998 and was European champion in 2005, having won silver in 2003 when seven and a half months pregnant. She took gold in the Commonwealth Games in Manchester in 2002 and again in Melbourne in 2006 and has represented GB in four Paralympic Games, including London 2012. She has been British national champion 21 times and has won hundreds of International medals over the last 20 years.

In 2013, Sue won medals in Slovenia and Slovakia before taking gold in the Bayreuth Open in Germany. She then represented GB in the European Championships, losing a very close match to the London 2012 silver medalist and double European champion Borislava Peric-Rankova from Serbia in the semi-final to take the bronze.

In 2014 Sue once again faced the world number one Peric-Rankovic in the semi-finals of the World Championships and at 0-2 down she looked to be heading for another defeat but she fought back magnificently to take the third 11-4 and after saving a match point in the fourth she went on to take a famous victory 11-8 in the fifth.

“I’ve been to the fifth set with her so many times and lost every single time,” said Sue, “and I just didn’t want to replicate that. It’s been at least eight years since I beat Peric – I just wanted one win and where better to do it than in Beijing – in the land of table tennis.”

Perhaps unsurprisingly Sue could not produce a repeat performance in the final against Miao Zhang and the Chinese world number two was a comfortable 3-0 winner.

“I’m really disappointed in how I played,” said Gilroy, “but I’ve just got to be proud of how well I’ve played this week and of winning a silver medal at the World Championships. I think the semi-final was my final really – I think it has been so long coming that it was quite overwhelming.”

Sue started the 2015 season with bronze medals in Italy, recording another win over Peric-Rankovic in the team event, and Slovenia and represented GB once more in the European Championships in Denmark. With classes 4 and 5 combined she reached the quarter finals of the singles but found the class 5 three time former European champion Ingela Lundback just too strong in a 3-1 defeat.

“I’m bitterly disappointed,” said Sue. “To come back from 10-6 down in the fourth and then lose 15-13 and getting two nets at deuce. I played really well in the third and fourth but just let her dominate in the second and third games and I was really hoping I could come back in the fourth and take it to a fifth but it wasn’t to be.”

She did add to her major medal tally with team bronze in the women’s class 4-5 event with 16 year old Megan Shackleton, the pair reaching the semi-finals before losing to Sweden.

“To be honest once we knew we were playing Sweden we were so happy to beat Germany and Israel and get through to the semi-final we just wanted to relax and enjoy it,” said Sue. “It’s great to have a team partner again and hopefully we’ll go onwards and upwards now and get stronger as we go on.”

In 2016 Sue competed for GB in her fifth Paralympic Games in Rio. After reaching the knockout stages for the first time she came agonisingly close to winning her first Paralympic medal, losing a very close match for the bronze medal 3-2 to the Serbian Nada Matic having led 2-0.

“I’m absolutely gutted,” she said. “Fourth is the worst position to be in, particularly when you have been 2-0 up. I’m proud of what I’ve done but I’m gutted for my family and coaches who have helped me so much that I just couldn’t get that medal.”

In 2017 Sue won bronze in the World Team Championships with Megan Shackleton and then overcame a preparation disrupted by an operation on her arm to take bronze in the women’s class 4-5 singles at the European Championships in Slovenia.

“I’ve been out for the last three months after having surgery on my arm and I’ve only been back playing for six weeks so I didn’t expect to get a medal and it is brilliant to get a bronze,” she said.

In 2018 Sue defeated Paralympic champion Peric-Rankovic on her way to taking silver in the Slovenia Open in May but was unable to repeat that victory in the World Championships in October, losing to the Serbian in the quarter-finals.

“I’m bitterly disappointed,” she said. “I had a great warm-up and I just don’t know what went wrong. I just couldn’t bring it to the table. She was so mentally tough on the day and I know I can play so much better than that – we are so evenly matched but unfortunately that wasn’t shown today.”

Several years ago Sue received an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List and an Honorary Doctorate for her services to table tennis and her charity work with Rainbow House, disabled children’s charity, and Cancer Research. She has also worked as an Ambassador for Sport England for many years, running various table-tennis workshops and talks.

Sue combines her table tennis career with her work as a full-time Primary School Teacher at Shawlands Primary School in Barnsley. “Sport gave me a purpose in life when I went into a wheelchair,” says Sue, “and my love of table tennis and the opportunities it has given me over the years makes me feel very privileged. I have met many wonderful people who have inspired me to be the best player I can be.”

Take 5 with Sue:
Most admired sportsman/woman – Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson
Three people you would most like to have a drink with – Steven Seagal, Robbie Williams, Gary Barlow
If you had to appear in a reality TV show which one would it be – I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here
Three words that describe you best – dedicated, determined, fun-loving
Place in the world you would most like to visit – tour around Australia and swim/dive in the Great Barrier Reef
and finally – Sue was awarded BBC Disabled Sports Personality of the Year for Yorkshire and Lincolnshire in 2002 and 2006

2019 Results:
Dutch Open – QF, women’s singles (class 4); bronze, women’s teams (class 3-5)
European Championships, Sweden – bronze, women’s teams (class 4-5); group stages, women’s singles (class 4-5)
Slovenia Open – L16, women’s singles (class 4); bronze, women’s teams (class 4)

2018 Results:
World Championships, Slovenia – QF, women’s singles (class 4)
Slovenian Open – silver, women’s singles (class 4-5); QF, women’s teams (class 4-5)
Slovakia Open – bronze, women’s singles (class 4-5); silver, women’s teams (class 4-5)

2017 Results:
Belgian Open – silver, women’s singles (class 4-5); silver, women’s teams (class 1-5)
European Championships, Lasko, Slovenia – bronze, women’s singles (class 4-5); 5th, women’s teams (class 4-5RR)
World Team Championships, Slovakia – bronze, women’s class 4-5
Slovenia Open – bronze, women’s teams (class 4-5); QF, women’s singles (class 4-5)
Lignano Master Open, Italy – bronze, women’s singles (class 4-5)

2016 Results:
Paralympic Games, Rio de Janeiro – SF, women’s singles (class 4)
Slovakia Open – bronze, women’s singles (class 4); silver, women’s teams (class 4)
Lignano Master Open, Italy – bronze, women’s singles (class 4-5); bronze, women’s teams (class 4-5)

2015 Results:
China Open – silver, women’s teams (class 4-5); 4th women’s RR singles (class 4)
European Championships, Vejle, Denmark – bronze, women’s teams (class 4-5); QF, women’s singles (class 4-5)
Bayreuth Open, Germany – bronze, women’s singles (class 4); bronze, women’s teams (class 4)
Lignano Master Open, Italy – bronze, women’s singles (class 4-5); 4th women’s teams (class 4-5)

2014 Results:
World Championships, Beijing, China – silver, women’s singles (class 4)
Spanish Open – gold, women’s singles (class 4)
Lignano Master Open, Italy – bronze, women’s singles (class 4-5); silver, women’s teams (class 4-5)

Career Highlights:
2017: European Championships, Lasko, Slovenia – bronze, women’s singles (class 4-5)
World Team Championships, Slovakia – bronze, women’s class 4-5
2016: Paralympic Games, Rio de Janeiro – SF, women’s singles (class 4)
2015: European Championships, Vejle, Denmark – bronze, women’s teams (class 4-5)
2014: World Championships, Beijing, China – silver, women’s singles (class 4)
2013: European Championships, Lignano, Italy – bronze, women’s singles (class 4)
2009: European Championships, Genoa, Italy – silver, women’s singles (class 4)
2006: World Championships, Montreux, Switzerland – bronze, women’s singles (class 4)
2006: Commonwealth Games, Melbourne, Australia – gold, women’s singles (class 1-5)
2005: European Championships, Italy – gold, women’s singles (class 4); bronze, women’s teams (class 4)
2003: European Championships, Zagreb, Croatia – silver, women’s singles (class 4)
2002: Commonwealth Games, Manchester, UK – gold, women’s singles (class 2-5)
2001: European Championships, Frankfurt, Germany – bronze, women’s teams (class 4)
Further results are available at: http://www.ipttc.org/players/women/sue_gilroy/index.htm

Sue Gilroy headshot photo 2018

Date and place of birth: 19/10/72, Barnsley
Home town: Barnsley
Lives: Dodworth, Barnsley
Family: Husband Steve, children Lauren and Ryan
TT Class: 4
Current world ranking: 8
TT Style: Attacking
International debut: 1996
Major titles: Commonwealth champion 2002/2006; European champion 2005