Jack Hunter-Spivey

Jack ready to live the dream in Rio

Paul Stimpson

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The Paralympics get under way on Wednesday, with 13 Paralympic GB table tennis players travelling with high hopes of a big medal haul.

We start our countdown to the big day by focusing on the four players who will feature in singles competition only in Rio.

Jack Hunter-Spivey (21, Liverpool)
Class: SM5

“Preparation has been going really well. Tommy (Urhaug) was in Sheffield last week training with me – he won gold in London so that was really good practice for me for the Games and I couldn’t be in a better situation, really.

“The Paralympic Inspiration Programme in London was a massive influence on me and it gave me a big fire in my belly to get to Rio as sitting in the crowd in London was amazing but it wasn’t where I wanted to be – I wanted to play.

“It means everything to me to be going to a Paralympic Games – I’ve dreamt about this since I was a little kid. It is my first Games so experience is going to be a massive key point for me.

“I haven’t got any overall goals of a medal but I do know that on my day I can beat anyone in the world, so I’m just going to play my best table tennis and see what happens.”

Sue Gilroy (age 43, from Barnsley)
Class: SF4


“The top six or seven players (in my class) are all the same standard. It is a very mentally tough sport and it is basically about who is toughest on the day.

“Obviously winning a medal would be a career highlight. I’ve won world silver and bronze and been European champion and double Commonwealth champion but this is the only one that has always eluded me. But all I can do is my best.

“I’m playing the best table tennis of my career – I beat the world number one last year and in the World Championships in 2014 to get silver and I’ve been very close to the Chinese players, so fingers crossed I can get that medal this time.”

David Wetherill (26, Torpoint)
Class: SM6


“We had a really good training camp in Slovenia two weeks ago and I know that all the hard work is in the bank. It is about performing on the day now.

“Experience does count for a lot – I’ve done it all before and I’m trying to stay away from all the razzmatazz that goes with a big event. I feel quite calm and hopefully I’ll be able to focus on the job in hand and handle the nerves and pressure better this time.

“I feel that I am improving as a player week by week but I have no expectations – obviously I have dreams but I am not thinking in terms of outcome.

“I’ve just got to go and put into practice all the hard work I’ve done and enjoy the challenge.”

Paul Karabardak (30, Swansea)
Class: SM6


“I’ve been training hard and I’m pleased with the way I’m playing, so I think I’m in a good place and looking forward to getting to Rio and playing now.

“The experience of Beijing and London will be a big help for me. My goal would be a medal but ultimately I want to play well and give my best and if I can do that then I can win a medal, so my aim is just to go out and play my best.

“Representing ParalympicsGB in Rio means a lot to me because it is so tough to qualify for a Paralympic Games so to be going to my third as one of the top players in my class makes me feel really proud.”

The table tennis tournament begins on Thursday – reports on this website and keep an eye on our Twitter feed for the latest news.

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