Rio 2016 Paralympics: Welsh table tennis stars in action on day one

In London 2012, Welsh Paralympians won 16 medals, they will be looking for further success in Rio.
Welsh Paralympians won 16 medals at London 2012

The Paralympic Games open in Rio with one in 10 members of the Great Britain squad Welsh athletes.

Twenty-six Welsh Paralympians have been selected looking for a haul of 20 to 30 medals over the Rio and Tokyo Games in four years' time.

Attention will focus first on the table tennis, but there are of hopes of Welsh success across the board.

"We're proud to have 26 Welsh athletes selected," said Jon Morgan, executive director of Disability Sport Wales.

"We agreed a target with Sport Wales of making up 7% of the ParalympicsGB team. To get 10% is very pleasing and a credit to the structures we have in place and the backroom team involved.

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From bricklayer to table tennis star

"Para-sport has never been as competitive and it is increasingly difficult to win medals.

"But we have a group of athletes that includes world champions, European champions, world record holders and Paralympic medallists."

The table tennis starts with Wales providing a third of the 12-person team, including world number one Rob Davies while Sara Head and Paul Davies won bronze London 2012.

Head is looking to pick up another medal in Rio, but said being a part of the Games was already a dream come true.

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"It was an exhilarating experience to win bronze in London," said the 36-year-old.

"Of course I would really like to win a medal again, but as long as I perform to my best and I achieve as much as I can then I know I will go home happy.

"To have a third of the team from Wales is a massive achievement in itself. The support back home is incredible. You just can't describe how wonderful it is to have that support from home."

Paul Davies 49, believes the pressure will be off slightly in Rio this time around.

Paul Davies
Paralympic table tennis bronze medallist in London, Paul Davies, is 49, but Rio is only his second games.

"It's going to be different from London, the conditions and weather are very different and the ball will be playing in a different way," said Davies.

"For me personally I've been in this game for 25 years. If you can be in a bronze medal game in London with 6,500 people shouting you name, then coming to Rio should be a breeze.

"I would love to capitalise on winning the bronze last time."

The Welsh contingent in the table tennis side is completed by Paul Karabardak and Abergavenny's Rob Davies, who missed out on a medal in London, but arrives in Brazil currently ranked number one in the world.

"Being number one is something I am just going to have to use to my advantage. I just have to get out there and do a job," Davies said.

"I think I put a lot of pressure on myself going into London. In Rio I am just going to try to enjoy it."