Three bronze medals were taken but the ultimate prize of automatic qualification for Paris eluded the British athletes on the final day of the Paralympic World Qualification Tournament in Thailand.

Megan Shackleton (women’s class 4), Chris Ryan (men’s class 2) and Jack Hunter-Spivey (men’s class 5) all lost in the semi-finals of their respective events.

With only gold medallists earning qualification for Paris the ‘winner takes all’ nature of this tournament provides a unique element that produces either elation or despair and emphasises the ultra-fine margins that decide success in table tennis at the highest level.

Shackleton, Ryan and Hunter-Spivey together with Tom Matthews, Ross Wilson, Theo Bishop and Grace Williams will now hope to receive a wildcard to join the nine British athletes already qualified for this summer’s Paralympic Games.

“It has been a very tough tournament,” acknowledged BPTT Performance Director Gorazd Vecko. “There were a lot of good players in every class who had not qualified for Paris and this tournament was much stronger than the one before Tokyo.

“For some athletes it was more about gaining experience of a major competition but for the Performance athletes their goal was to win the tournament which they didn’t do. They tried their best but unfortunately this time it was not enough, and we will wait now for the decisions on wildcards which will be announced at the end of June.

“I need to say thank you to all the athletes and staff who worked really hard. It has been a mentally tough tournament for everyone, and the pressure here has been harder than any round at a major championship. There will always be some players trying to fight for the last qualification places and we need to learn from this, review everything and come back stronger next time.”

Women’s class 4

Megan Shackleton came through a five-set battle in the quarter-final against Ena Miyazaki, taking the deciding set 11-5 after the 18-year-old from Japan had twice levelled the match. That took her through to a semi-final against world No 7 Irem Oluk who narrowly denied Shackleton a medal at the European Championships last year.  

The 24-year-old from Todmorden won their most recent two encounters at the Polish Open in March and after losing a tight first set 11-9 she won the second 11-9 to level at 1-1. Oluk took the third 11-7 and although Shackleton kept fighting the world bronze medallist from Turkey took the fourth 11-8 and the match 3-1.

Men’s class 2

Chris Ryan is attempting to qualify for his first Paralympic Games as a table tennis athlete having led the GB wheelchair rugby team to gold in Tokyo. The 32-year-old has made rapid progress since making his international debut last year and once again showed his huge potential despite losing his semi-final 3-1 to world No 12 Thirayu Chueawong.

He fought back from 7-2 down to take the first set 12-10 but the Asian Para Games bronze medallist from Thailand levelled at 1-1 with his tactics of serving very short paying dividends. Ryan again fought back from 10-6 down in the third to level at 10-10 but Chueawong edged it 12-10 and went on to take the fourth 11-8 and the match 3-1.

Men’s class 5

Lucas Carvalhal Arabian beat Jack Hunter-Spivey on his way to taking bronze in the World Championships in 2022 and the 18-year-old Brazilian was in inspired form in today’s semi-final. Hunter-Spivey started well and took the first set 11-5 but won only two points in the second to find himself level at 1-1.

The third set proved pivotal with the 29-year-old from Liverpool fighting back from 10-7 down to level at 10-10 only for Carvalhal Arabian to clinch it 12-10 when Hunter-Spivey went long with a forehand, and the Para PanAmerican Games silver medallist went on to take the fourth set 11-7 to win 3-1.