Two-time Paralympian and NHS hero Kim Daybell has announced his retirement from table tennis in order to focus on his medical career.

The 30-year-old from Sheffield sacrificed his own hopes of competing at the delayed Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games to work on the NHS frontline in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, becoming a figurehead for Paralympians around the world.

“It is sad to be leaving the team but I’ve spent the last 10 years travelling and playing the sport I love with people I care about, so I couldn’t ask for a lot more and it feels like the right time to move on,” said Daybell.

“It was a really difficult decision and I took a long time to think about it. There have been a lot of ups and downs over the last few years and lots of points where I was thinking of calling it a day but in the end I wanted to let some time pass so I could make a rational decision about why I wanted to step away from the sport.


At some point I needed to commit to medicine, and it is a tough career which will require a lot of time and dedication, but I feel ready for that new challenge now.

Kim Daybell

Kim Daybell competing at Rio 2016

Daybell joined the Para Table Tennis Team in 2007 and went on to win nearly 50 international medals in his 15-year career, including seven singles titles, two European team medals and Commonwealth silver.

He competed at two Paralympic Games – London 2012 and Rio 2016, combining table tennis with studying for a degree in medicine at Leeds University, before going on to work in a North London hospital. Full-time work on a COVID ward during the pandemic meant he missed out on qualification for Tokyo 2020.

British Para Table Tennis Performance Director Gorazd Vecko paid tribute to Daybell and his contribution to the sport and his team.

“When I first started with the team in 2009 I saw big potential in Kim,” said Vecko, “and I am really happy that he had a great career in table tennis. I was really proud that I could be his manager for such a long time and I wish him all the best in his career as a doctor because I think what he is doing is amazing. He went from table tennis to helping save lives during the pandemic and I don’t think a lot of people could do that.”

ParalympicsGB Chef de Mission Penny Briscoe added: “Kim’s selflessness during the COVID pandemic – putting others before his own sporting ambitions – spoke volumes and I am immensely proud of all that he has achieved both in sport, as a valued member of the ParalympicsGB team for so many years, and in his career away from table tennis. I wish Kim all the best in his medical career and have no doubt he will continue to excel in all that he does.”

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