2021 Paralympics: Will Bayley gets off to a good start to defend his table tennis title


Away from the velodrome and the pool, table tennis star Will Bayley got off to a good start to defend his Class Seven Paralympic title.

The 33-year-old, who recovered from a serious knee injury suffered during Strictly Come Dancing to compete in the delayed Games, won a 3-1 qualifying victory over Poland’s Maksym Chudzicki.

He edged ahead of the Group B opener 13-11 and, after losing the second 11-8, regained his composure to finish the job with wins 11-3 and 11-8.

“Obviously the tournament was massive preparation and I felt the nerves ahead of my match,” Bayley, who faces Thailand’s Chalermpong Punpoo on Thursday in his last group game, said in a statement.

“The experience is huge because I have played four tournaments as big as this and I just felt I had that experience and maybe lacked it a bit, but he has the capacity.

“I haven’t played a game for two years and that’s why we train so hard; we live for those times to compete for GB.

It had been an unforgettable start for the Games table tennis team for Great Britain following the deselection of David Wetherill following a breach of team rules.

Ross Wilson was among the British winners on day one of Tokyo 2020 (John Walton / PA)

(PA wire)

However, there was much to be said for at the end of day one as the 3-0 victories of class eight players Ross Wilson and Aaron McKibbin – over Frenchman Clément Berthier and Australian Nathan Pellissier respectively – s’ added to Bayley’s triumph.

Wildcard Ashley Facey Thompson had the misfortune of suffering a narrow 3-2 loss to Japanese player Koyo Iwabuchi, while there were also losses for veteran Sue Bailey and debutant Megan Shackleton.

In wheelchair rugby, Jim Roberts scored 27 tries as Great Britain started with a narrow 50-47 victory over Canada.

The European champions kept a slight advantage at the end of each quarter to start their campaign in Group B.

Stuart Robinson has scored 14 more goals at Yoyogi National Stadium, while GB are expected to resume action against New Zealand on Thursday.

Canada avenged the loss in women’s wheelchair basketball, winning a convincing 73-54 victory over Great Britain at Musashino Forest Sport Plaza.

The British team led the Group A preliminary round game by four points at the end of the first and second quarters, but have been convincingly outplayed in each of the final two quarters.

Madeleine Thomson was the top scorer for Great Britain with 11 points, while Kathleen Dandeneau and Rosalie Lalonde were the stars of the Canadians with 32 and 20 points respectively.

In wheelchair fencing, a disappointment for the British Piers Gilliver and Gemma Collis-McCann.

Gilliver, 26, was knocked out of the men’s A saber in the round of 16 after a grueling 15-12 loss to China’s Li Hao, out of Pool 3 after two out of four wins, beating Frenchman Romain Noble (5-0 ) and Russian Nikita Nagaïev (5-2).

“I fought well and just managed to miss which is hard to take,” he said, according to ParalympicsGB. “Now I have to put this behind me and focus on tomorrow because the sword is my strongest event.”

Collis-McCann left the women’s A saber after four straight losses in Pool 3.


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