Britain guaranteed two more medals after superb display at European Para Table Tennis Championships
Kim Daybell made it 13th time lucky in a major quarter-finals as he and Ashley Facey Thompson defeated World team silver medallists Russia at the European Para Table Tennis Championships in Lasko, Slovenia.
The win guarantees the class 10 pair at least a bronze, while Paul Karabardak, David Wetherill and Martin Perry also securing a semi-final spot and a medal after their class 6 victory over Greece.
Despite topping their group going into today’s action, Daybell and Facey Thompson were given a tough draw against the experienced Russian pair of Pavel Lukyanov and Iurii Nozdrunov.
But the British pair held their nerve and took the opening doubles match 14-12 in the fourth, before world number three Nozdrunov beat Facey Thompson in the first singles encounter to level the match.
In the decider, Daybell, who had lost in his previous 12 last-eight matches, won in four sets to set up a semi-final with Spain on Tuesday.
And he believes the pair played some of their best ever table tennis as a partnership on their way to victory.
“The doubles was massively important,” said the 25-year-old. “We’ve played better here than we have ever played before - really working well together - and it goes to show that if you do win that one you really put yourself in with a massive shot.
“They were the number three seeds and we were unlucky to draw them so it was a really nice way to win.
“I’ve been part of a lot of quarter finals and it has been a real hard struggle. Class 10 is such a tough class but it means even more to win it in team because Ash and me have been trying for a long time to win a medal together.
“I think when you share something like that it just makes it all the better.”
Facey Thompson added: “Words can’t describe how it feels to win a major medal – we have been close four times but we’ve worked hard and the outcome is at least a bronze so I’m really happy.
“I’m looking forward to tomorrow now – we have nothing to lose and we can give it our all.”
In the class 6, the pair of Karabardak and Wetherill overpowered their Greek counterparts, with Perry watching on from the bench.
The British duo triumphed 3-0 in the doubles, before Wetherill survived a spirited effort from Mario Chatzikyriakos to win 3-1 and set up a final-four clash with Israel tomorrow for a place in Wednesday’s final.
“It was one of those matches where we just needed to get the job done, and we managed to do that,” said Wetherill. “I think we will be a lot fresher tomorrow.
“I think today we played really clever and we did nothing apart from place the ball in the right places so I am very pleased with that.”
Karabardak added: “I think we can get better but we will have to because there will be tougher tests in the semi-finals.
“We’re guaranteed a medal but I’d like to get the gold and I think we are more than capable of getting the gold.”
Britain have a further chance at medal glory in the class 8 tomorrow, with Aaron McKibbin, Ross Wilson and Billy Shilton steeling themselves for a quarter-final tie against France.