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Davies leads historic 1-2-3 for Britain

Paralympic champion Rob Davies retained his men’s class one singles title at the European Para Table Tennis Championships in Slovenia. Will Bayley had to settle for bronze in his bid to add the European crown to his world and Paralympic titles.

Rob Davies (1st), Tom Matthews (2nd) and Paul Davies (3rd) on podium with medals

Davies led a historic British clean sweep of the medals in men’s class one with Tom Matthews taking silver and Paul Davies bronze. David Wetherill took silver in men’s class six and there were bronze medals for Sue Gilroy in women’s class 4-5 and Ross Wilson in men’s class eight.

In the semi-final, Rob Davies had to take on his great friend and fellow Welshman Paul Davies. In what was a repeat of their final in the European Championships in 2013. It went to a deciding set and the 33-year-old from Brecon proved just too strong for the 50-year-old from North Cornelly in taking the match 11-5 in the fifth.

He then had to take on another fellow Welshman, Tom Matthews in the final and used all his experience to close out the match 11-9 in the third to secure his third consecutive European title.

European champion, Rob Davies, said:

“It feels pretty amazing. It was a very emotional semi-final playing Paul. To say he has been through a hell of lot in the last 12 months is an understatement and for him to come back and perform like that shows what he is made of and the character of him.
“The world title next year would be nice. That is definitely my aim – I didn’t think I would be in the finals here, to be honest, but I’ve done it, dug deep and battled through every match and got there. That gives me a lot of confidence."

25-year-old, Tom Matthews, from Aberdare was not quite able to reproduce that form in the final but having taken bronze two years ago was happy to take the silver this time.

Tom Matthews, said:

“Rob is a true champion and a great guy.”
“I’m happy for Rob, happy for myself and happy for the team. We have had a one, two, three and made history so I can’t really complain."

David Wetherill showed all his battling qualities in both the quarter and semi-final against tough competition to reach the men's class six final. Unfortunately, the final against the world No 1 Alvaro Valera proved to be one match too many for the 27-year-old from Torpoint. David kept fighting and took the third set, however it wasn't enough as the Spaniard took the match 11-5 in the fourth.

After a 3-0 win against the Frenchman Kevin Dourbecker, Will Bayley faced Mykhaylo Popov in his semi-final in a repeat of the European Championship final in 2013 that the Ukrainian won. The 29-year-old from Tunbridge Wells started slowly and although he fought back from 2-0 down to level at 2-2, he could not close out the match and had to settle for bronze.

A disappointed Will Bayley, said:

“He is No 3 in the world and he has been European champion before so he is a great player. But that is sport and that is table tennis and anything can happen on the day. He got on top of me and deserved to win today for sure."

Ross Wilson brought home a bronze medal in the men's class eight after a semi-final showdown against World champion and world No 1 Viktor Didukh from Ukraine. Wilson pushed the Ukrainian all the way, coming back from 2-1 down to force a decider which Didukh won 11-7.

Sue Gilroy also took bronze in the women's class 4-5. After coming through her quarter-final against Zorica Popadic 3-0 to face another Serbian, Borislava Peric-Rankovic. The Paralympic champion and world No 1 has so often been her nemesis in the past and so it proved again, with Gilroy unable to produce her best form in a 3-0 loss.

The European Para Table Tennis Championships continue this week with the team events, which conclude on Wednesday. For all the latest updates on the England team please visit Table Tennis England website.

Photo credit: Table Tennis England