May 172014
 

Stonehouse table tennis player Billy Shilton, 15, has brought home his first international gold medal from the Slovenia Open.

Following a GB Para Table Tennis squad training camp, Billy played in the Men’s 7 class team event alongside Will Bayley and Paul Karabardak. He said: “I don’t get to play with Will and Paul very often, so it’s great experience to be part of the team.”

Early in the group rounds, the teenager scored a notable win, beating Daryl Sterling of the USA, and the team won their group to reach the semi-final stage, beating Spain 3-2 and then enjoying a 3-0 win over a combined German/Brazilian team. That included a straight-sets singles win for Billy against Gilberto Onofre from Brazil, and a doubles win playing with Bayley.

World No 2 Bayley, who won a silver medal at the London Paralympics, commented: “It was a good team effort. Billy is young and has a lot of potential and playing Germany is going to be a massive match: you can’t get more motivation than playing Germany; they are one of the best teams in the world.”

The threesome then went on to win GB’s first gold of finals day, beating Germany in the semi-final and then fighting all the way to beat a combined Belgium/Netherlands team 3-2.

Unsurprisingly, Billy couldn’t handle world number six Thorsten Schwinn but acquitted himself well over three games, with the scores being 10-12, 6-11 and 9-11. But with wins from Bayley and Karabardak the team were through to the final where they took the gold.

“I’ve learnt a lot from being involved in these big matches with Will and Paul,” said Billy, “and it’s my first gold medal which is great. I just need to keep training hard and playing well.”

It’s now back to home and school for the Stonehouse teenager – until his next event in Romania next month.

Jane Leigh

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