Gold, Silver and Bronze for Irish Para Squad at IWAS Games

On Saturday 2nd of August 2014, a team of 2 coaches Krzysiek Ring and Louise Long, logistics manager Liz Gantly and 7 table tennis players Alex Henebry, Sinead Keon, Marcus Ward, Mark Henderson, Paddy Vaughan, Conor O’ Callaghan and Jack Colbert attended the IWAS games in Stoke Mandeville, UK. This was the 10th World Junior games and included the sports of athletics, archery, swimming, race running , power lifting, wheelchair fencing as well as table tennis. This event is for athletes under the age of 23.

Paralympic Table Tennis is usually classified into standing and sitting players both containing classes depending on disability of the athlete. In this IWAS Games it was decided that there would be a team wheelchair event and a team standing event and all classes would play in the same event. There was also a wheelchair singles event which included all players of different classes which proved very difficult as it was filled with top class players.  The standing event was also played with mixed classes and was divided between over 16 and under 16. There was also a special event for class 6 and 7 players standing players even though they played in the main event against their age group.  There was also a ladies event.

Before this event two intensive training camps were held in the IWA and both lasted for two days each. These training camps show the dedication of both the players and their parents as players travel from all over Ireland.

Classifications and the opening ceremony was on Sunday, 3rd of August which saw 31 countries participate. The table tennis singles event started on Monday 4th of August and concluded on Tuesday 5th of August and the team event continued for the duration of the Games.

In the Singles standing under 16 event Conor O’ Callaghan had a tough group and came third beating players from Greece and Kazakhstan. He won a gold medal in class 6 and 7 with Greek players winning silver and bronze.

Paddy Vaughan won matches against players from Canada , two players from Kazakhstan, and from Greece and only narrowly lost a match to a player from Kuwait and progressed to the semi finals where he lost to Curtis Caron from Canada and received a bronze medal.

In the over 16 event, Sinead Keon was Ireland’s only hopefully but the competition proved to be very tough as she played a class 9 and two class 10 players in her group. She did not progress out of her group. In the girls standing competition Sinead Keon won a silver medal beating Eldona Baduova from Kazakhstan in the final.

Due to the fact the wheelchair event was not classed it was an extremely tough event for Irish players. In the wheelchair event Jack Colbart had a tough group and beat Giadi Rossi from Italy in a tight 5 setter winning 3/2 but did not progress out of his group.

Alex Hereby lost close matches to Hong Kong and Great Britain and beat M. Korgi from UAE 3/0 but again failed to progress out of his group. Mark Henderson had again a tough group losing matches to players from Italy, Great Briain and Greece. Marcus Ward also had tough matches losing to Austria, Hong Kong and Great Britain.

All in all it was tough yet beneficial event for all the players involved. The fact that it was not divided into classes made it extremely hard for the players. This tournament was extremely beneficial to both players and coaches and has given us a step in the right direction for the next training camp on the 16th of August

Special Thanks should be given to Liz Gantly who did an impressive job in organising logistics for all the Irish Athletes that attended on team Ireland from Athletics, swimming and table tennis.

Final Results:

Gold – Conor O’ Callaghan – Class 6/7

Silver – Sinead Keon – ladies event

Bronze – Paddy Vaughan – Over 16’s event

Louise Long

Krzysiek Ring