There was a golden second half to the year as English athletes topped the podium at both the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, World Para Championships and the European Veterans’ Championship.
Sally Bax, Simon Heaps and Lorestas Trumpauskas were the solid gold performers at the European Veterans’ in Rimini in early July, with three silvers and five bronzes also in England’s medal total.
Also on the European stage, BPTT Pathway athletes Joe Crouse, Ryan Henry and Shae Thakker were the first ever British para athletes to compete in the European Universities Games. Thakker won class 10 singles gold, Henry took silver in class 8 and Crouse took bronze in class 9.
At home, the first ever all-female 1* tournament was a huge success, paving the way for others.
August saw the biggest multi-sport event hosted in England since the London 2012 Olympics, as Commonwealth nations gathered for Birmingham 2022.
It was in the individual events that the real glory came, as Jack Hunter-Spivey took England’s first gold with a brilliant victory in the men’s class 3-5 singles, followed by Liam Pitchford & Paul Drinkhall retaining their men’s doubles title.
Also on the podium was Ross Wilson, taking bronze in the men’s class 8-10 singles. He was joined on the podium by gold medallist Josh Stacey of Wales.
Also during the Games, England’s Tin-Tin Ho was named Athlete of the Year at the TASS Stars Awards.
September saw the table tennis community join the nation in mourning the death of Queen Elizabeth II, the patron of the ETTA/Table Tennis England since 1952.
As the season resumed, the Senior British League, Premier Division became the first event to be featured live on the new TTE.TV channel – the new ‘home of table tennis’ which will broadcast the biggest and best events in England.
It was the turn of some of our officials to experience delight on the world stage in October as five umpires completed their Level 3 International Umpire qualification, while Steve Smith joined the ranks of International Referees.
On the table, GB Junior Squad duo Anna Hursey & Sophie Earley won the girls’ doubles at the WTT Youth Star Contender in Montenegro, but there was disappointment for England at the World Team Championships, going out in the last 16 to France.
Two-time Paralympian and NHS hero Kim Daybell announced his retirement from table tennis to focus on his medical career.
And Table Tennis England launched Table Tennis United – our new strategy outlining our vision to turn England into a ‘Table Tennis Nation’.
November saw another golden month for British athletes, this time at the World Para Championships. Great Britain topped the podium twice in the team events as first Billy Shilton and Paul Karabardak won the men’s class 14 doubles and then Fliss Pickard and Grace Williams won the corresponding women’s class.
The 2014 world champion Will Bayley then completed the golden haul as he regained the men’s class 7 singles title.
With 10 medals overall, it was Britain’s most successful Worlds, delighting Performance Director Gorazd Vecko.
As the year drew to a close, Commonwealth Games referee Karen Tonge received her OBE from the Princess Royal at Windsor Castle in December, while Table Tennis England Chairperson Sandra Deaton was appointed deputy chair of the influential ITTF Nominations Committee.