30 August 2021

Bailey guarantees first table tennis medal at sixth Paralympic Games

Sue Bailey will earn her very first medal at her sixth Paralympic Games on a day that ParalympicsGB guaranteed themselves three podium finishes in the table tennis team events.

Bailey first represented ParalympicsGB at Sydney 2000 and 21 years on will finally taste medal success after combining with Megan Shackleton to reach the women’s team class 4-5 semi-finals by defeating Jordan 2-1 at the quarter-final stage.

The Brits lost a remarkable doubles match 3-2 but Shackleton, 22, then beat Khetam Abuawad 3-1 and Bailey, 48, edged past Faten Elelimat 3-2 in the singles to snatch victory in the tie and book a semi-final against China, where even defeat would earn them a share of bronze.

Sue Bailey and Megan Shackleton combined brilliantly to guarantee themselves a medal

Reflecting on her first Paralympic medal, Bailey said: “It’s a dream come true and I must admit I thought it would never happen.

“I thought I’d have to end my career without ever getting that Paralympic medal.

“Megan is an amazing partner. We’ve both had a really tough couple of weeks for various reasons and for Megan to come out and play so well, I’m so proud of her.”

First-time Paralympian Shackleton added: “I just wanted us to come out, give it our all and fight for every point and whatever happened I knew that we would be at peace with the outcome but to get the medal is ridiculous.”

In the men’s class 6-7 event, Will Bayley and Paul Karabardak will add to the bronze medals they won in their singles campaigns after beating Australia 2-0 in the quarter-finals – with a straight-games double success followed by Bayley downing Trevor Hirth 3-0 as well.

Will Bayley helped ParalympicsGB cruise through their class 6-7 quarter-final alongside teammate Paul Karabardak

“I actually feel it is a fresh start for me and I think we played really well,” said Bayley, who will again combine with his Welsh teammate to play Spain in Wednesday’s semi-final.

“It’s nice to play with Paul again – it’s been so many years so it’s great to be back together again.

“Spain tomorrow is going to be an epic match – one of the biggest of our career and I’m really up for it. We’re ready and playing well so I’m looking forward to it.”

And Karabardak, who ended his long wait for a Paralympics medal in the class 6 singles added: “I’m really pleased that I can get my hands on another medal here.

“The World Championships in 2014 is the last time we played together but we started practising a month ago and we were better than ever, like we’d never stopped playing.”

In the men’s 8 class team event, world champion Ross Wilson had to withdraw after tweaking his back in the warm-up but Billy Shilton stepped in to combine with Aaron McKibbin for a 2-0 triumph over Hungary – 3-1 in the doubles and Shilton downing Andras Csonka 3-0.

Billy Shilton was a last-minute call-up to the men's class 8 team but played superbly to guarantee a podium finish with Aaron McKibbin

“Obviously there was a last-minute change of plan with Ross having a little niggle in the warm-up,” said McKibbin, with China awaiting in Wednesday’s semi-final.

“But that is what is so good about our team, we have three really strong players. We can play any combination at any time.

“The first game was a bit shaky but we took our time and then that performance from Billy was unbelievable. I’ve never seen him play that good – I literally knew from point one that he would win.”

Shilton added: “I knew I had to step up and that was probably the best I’ve ever played. I was really nervous in the doubles but Aaron calmed me down really well.”

Elsewhere, Ashley Facey Thompson and Joshua Stacey beat Spain 2-0 in Tuesday morning’s men’s class 9-10 event round of 16 but the quarter-final against China in the afternoon was a step too far as they fell to a 2-0 defeat.

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