China bring table tennis world champs to Bayreuth Open

Great Britain, Germany among nations to contend with China, who make their European debut in 2015. 27 May 2015
Lin Ma

China's Lin Ma

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By NPC Great Britain

The Bayreuth Open in Germany will welcome the powerful Chinese team for their first appearance in Europe this year.

The para-table tennis event, which is in its third year, begins Wednesday (27 May) with the single preliminary rounds and concludes Saturday (30 May) with the team final rounds. It is set to welcome 317 players from 41 countries.

China boast eight world champions, including Panfeng Feng (class 3) and Lin Ma (class 9) for the men; and Jing Liu (class 2), Bian Zhang (class 5), Jingdian Mao (class 8) and Li Na Lei (class 9) on the women’s side. All are currently ranked No. 1 in their respective disciplines.

Meanwhile, class 7 world champion Will Bayley and world No. 1 Rob Davies (class 1) will try to help Great Britain shine in the tournament.

Bayley will once again face strong competition from Ukraine’s Maksym Nikolenko, the World No. 1 who beat Bayley in a five-set final in the Slovenia Open earlier this month. Nikolenko’s teammate and current European champion Mykhaylo Popov and No. 6 ranked Keli Liao of China will also challenge Bayley. Meanwhile, Davies will need to keep close checks on Germany’s reigning Paralympic champion Holger Nikelis and Ki-won Nam, the South Korean who narrowly beat Davies in the Slovakia Open.

The British team also includes world silver medallist Sue Gilroy; London 2012 Paralympic medallists Jane Campbell, Sara Head and Aaron McKibbin. Sixteen-year-old Billy Shilton will once again partner Bayley in the men’s class 7 team event following their gold medal in Slovenia when they beat world champions Spain in the finals.

Host nation Germany will be led by world champion Baus Valentin (class 5), and world silver medallists Thomas Schmidberger (class 3) and Stephanie Grebe (class 6).

Visit the event website for more information on the Bayreuth Open.