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Davies leads GB medal haul in Slovenia

Davies leads GB medal haul in Slovenia
table tennis

Rob Davies beat GB team-mate Tom Matthews to win gold at the European Para Table Tennis Championships as David Wetherill, Will Bayley, Sue Gilroy, Ross Wilson and Paul Davies also got among the medals.

The Paralympic champion now has three European titles to his name, as he brought his experience to bear in a 3-0 win in the final.

“It feels pretty amazing,” said Davies, who overcame his namesake Paul at the semi-final stage.

"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.

"I’ll be better prepared next year, lose some weight and get back in the gym and hopefully I’ll be in better shape again for the Worlds next year.”

Matthews paid tribute to his opponent in the final, but vowed to come back stronger in the future.

“Rob is a true champion and a great guy,” said Matthews.

“I’m happy for Rob, happy for myself and happy for the team. We have had a one, two, three (with Paul Davies taking the bronze) and made history so I can’t really complain.

"I’ve got to give Rob a bit more of a challenge next time; I didn’t play my best in the final but he deserves it and bring on the next Europeans.”

 Wetherill pushed world number one Alvaro Valera hard in the final, winning the third set before eventually having to settle for a 3-1 defeat and the silver medal.

"He made it really difficult for me today. I wanted to make it difficult for him and I didn’t really do that to be honest," said Wetherill.

"I just had nothing left in the tank. I tried my best but in hindsight I should have taken my chances a bit more in the previous rounds as I made it more difficult for myself than it could have been.

"At the end of the day I got the wins but sometimes over the course of a tournament you have your ups and downs and you need to conserve your body a little bit. It was disappointing not to go into the final feeling fresh because I would have been a lot more confident than I was but take nothing away from Alvaro - he did the business.”

World and Paralympic champion Bayley had been hoping to make history as he first British player to hold all three major titles at the same time.

He fought back from 2-0 down to take his semi-final against Mykhaylo Popov match to a fifth-set decider but came up just short.

“He is number three in the World and he has been European champion before so he is a great player,” said Bayley.

“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. I knew when I was 2-0 down it would be a mountain to climb but I started to climb it and come back but I just couldn’t get to the top."

Gilroy fell to a 3-0 loss in her semi-final against Borislava Peric-Rankovic and admitted she had not produced her best against the Paralympic champion and world number one.

"Normally I give her a really good game and unfortunately I didn’t do that today," she said.

"I’ve been out for the last three months after having surgery on my arm and I’ve only been back playing for six weeks so I didn’t expect to get a medal and it is brilliant to get a bronze. Fingers crossed I can turn it round in the team event and play the standard I know I can play.”

Wilson took on world champion and world number one Viktor Didukh in his semi-final and forced the match to a decider before falling to defeat, a result he said would spur him on to greater things.

“I’m happy with how I played but I wish I could have reversed the result and got a 3-2 win," he said.

"It is really hard at the moment but I am sure that when I get back to training it will be something to spur me on to do better in the World Championships next year and eventually Tokyo."