Words by Colette Carr
With the countdown to the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games well and truly on, Team England today announced their 11-strong table tennis team, including three para players.
The Games that kick off down under in April will see standing para table tennis events included for the first time as part of the competition’s biggest para sport programme yet.
Heading to Australia in the hopes of helping Team England better their 2014 second place finish on the TT medal table are three Commonwealth debutants; Ross Wilson, Felicity Pickard, and Kim Daybell.
London 2012 bronze medallist Wilson will appear in the class 6-8 events, while Pickard will call on her European Championship experience to prepare for the Games.
Despite having competed at two Paralympic Games, the Gold Coast will serve as Daybell’s Commonwealth debut.
“I’m really excited,” he began.
“It’s the first-time para table tennis has had a standing event. To be part of the first one is going to be very exciting and to go to Australia will be a good trip. It will be nice to stand side by side with the able-bodied players and get the same coverage and the same recognition.
“We are representing England rather than GB and it will be interesting to see if it has a different feel to it. We could play against our colleagues from Scotland or Wales, who we’ve never had to play against before. I’m really looking forward to it!”
Team leader Simon Mills added: “I’m delighted to announce a squad which has an exciting blend of youth and experience. We travel with confidence that the squad will compete strongly for medals. The selection process was very competitive, which bodes well for the future, including a home Games in Birmingham in 2022.”