Fifth year medical student Kim Daybell has come away from the Easter break with much more than a chocolate bunny. He has a silver medal.
Daybell swapped West Yorkshire for the Gold Coast to compete in the Commonwealth Games, and returns after a successful run led him to the men’s TT6-10 table tennis final.
Facing fellow Englishman Ross Wilson, Daybell will be disappointed not to have walked away with the Gold after taking the opening set 11-7. Wilson responded to Kim claiming the first set by winning the following three sets to claim a 3-1 victory in a best-of-five. Daybell had competed at the 2012 Paralympics in London, while both men featured in Rio 2016, where Wilson took Bronze.
Speaking to Table Tennis England, Kim reflected that his friend Ross Wilson “was just a little bit better than me but I’m really proud.” Leeds’ medal winner said of the experience “it’s been a fantastic event, my first Commonwealth games and hopefully not my last.”
The 2018 Commonwealth Games marked its largest ever Para-sport programme, with 300 athletes competing for thirty-eight gold medals. While table tennis was not a debut in the Para-sport programme, triathlon was introduced for the first time and there were 73% more medals for Para-athletes than in the last Commonwealth Games.
Competing in his first Commonwealth Games, Kim professed his excitement to “stand side by side with the able-bodied players and get the same coverage and the same recognition.” It has been a signal of the progression that has been made since 1994 when events for athletes with a disability were first introduced into the Games. The 21st Commonwealth Games also made strides in gender equality, becoming the first multi-sport events to have an equal number of medals for male and female athletes.
Tokyo 2020 will be the next big target, but for British athletes, 2022 will provide additional motivation since the next Commonwealth Games will be held in Birmingham in 2022. The city will also host a homecoming event on Saturday 21st April where medal-winning participants from the Gold Coast will be in attendance.
By George Bains