Confirmation athlete Grace Williams underlined her potential by winning bronze in the women’s singles class 7-9 at the Montenegro Para Championships in Podgorica, her first international singles medal.
With 11 athletes from the UK Para Table Tennis Performance team unable to travel to Montenegro after their flight from London Gatwick Airport was cancelled, only the Welsh teenager and four members of the Pathway team who took the Aircraft on a previous flight from Manchester Airport were able to participate in these championships.
Lee York lost in the quarter-finals of the men’s 4 class and Andrew Guy (men’s 2 class), Dan Bullen (men’s 5 class) and Theo Bishop (men’s 7 class) all left their respective events in the group stage after very close matches. .
Williams faced Class 8 world number two Aida Dahlen of Norway in her first group match and the 31-year-old two-time European champion and world and Paralympic bronze medalist was too strong in a 3- 0.
The 19-year-old from Llanfyllin won her second match against 22-year-old Maria Kaipi of Greece 3-1 and secured her place in the semi-finals with a fine 3-1 win over compatriot Magdalena Sutkowska Pawlasek of Poland , who won their only previous encounter 3-0 at the Para French Open last year.
In the semi-final, she faced Juliane Wolf of Germany and the Class 8 world number five won the first two sets. Williams fought back well to take third 11-4 before the former World and European medalist secured her place in the final, 11-4 in fourth.
“The tournament so far has been a great experience,” Williams said, “winning my first singles medal and beating players I’ve lost to before. I’ve demonstrated that to become a better player, I have to believe in me and play my own game on the table.
“My match against Magdalena yesterday was tough as I lost to her last year – this time I decided to play my own game but be more controlled and take my time. The sets were close to the victory of the last against Magdalena 11-0 I feel that I am progressing against the best players.
“I didn’t expect to take a set from Wolf but I played very well and used tactics to avoid her exploiting my weaknesses. The semi-final showed me that I could achieve the highest level if I kept working hard.”
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