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McKibbin and Campbell chase table tennis prize

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Britain’s Table Tennis teams will fight for bronze medals today (5pm) after losing their semi-finals at the ExCeL last night.

The men’s class 6-8 squad of Will Bayley, Ross Wilson and London’s Aaron McKibbon were on the wrong end of a three-hour, five-game epic with Poland.

And the women’s class 1-3 pairing of Newham-based Jane Campbell and Sara Head lost to their Korean rivals in straight games.

The men beat Italy 3-0 in their quarter-final and went into their clash with the no.8 seeds full of confidence.

But the Poles were both class 8 players and Bayley, the class 7 singles silver medalist, had to play above himself and was beaten in both singles matches.

“It was a really tough match. I felt like I played well, I’m just disappointed I didn’t take the one that would have won us the match,” he said.

“On match point he got a lot of net which didn’t help and I missed my forehand. I’ve got to forget about that now and focus on the next match.”

Wilson played as if inspired in the packed arena, winning both his singles, before he was joined by McKibbon for the doubles.

The British pair won the first game, before the Poles finished the match in four.

McKibbin admitted it was difficult to watch his teammates for four matches before getting his chance to play, saying: “It was very nerve-wracking on the bench.

“I thought we had it at one stage but Will and Ross gave amazing effort. Ross put us in a good position and Will was unlucky, but they both played well.

“We were really up for it. I don’t think we got nervous but maybe it was the the occasion. I think we gave our best.”

Wilson, from the Isle of Sheppey, said: “There’s a lot of pressure in every game in London but I think I thrive off the pressure, I enjoy it.

“I feel more excited to play in front of my home crowd. It’s quite hard to adapt to playing a second match straight away. When you are in a close match the crowd is really loud, then you start a new game and everyone has sort of stopped. You feel as if you are trying to do it all by yourself, but the crowd are brilliant.”

The men play Germany, who include five-time Paralympic champion Jochen Wollmert, who beat Bayley to singles gold.

McKibbin added: “We are feeling like it is the end of the world but we’ve got a bronze medal match and I’d have taken that at the beginning of the tournament.

“It’s our first Paralympic Games for me and Ross and its Will’s second, but the first when he’s in a good position so it will be difficult but we’ll be raring to go and we don’t want to leave empty handed.”

Head and Campbell will also fight for bronze against Italy, having won a thrilling five-game quarter-final with Turkey, before finding the Koreans too hot the handle.

“That was a really tough game, we always knew it was going to be,” said Campbell.

“It is hard when you’ve had to give your all to come back with the same focus and we really did try our best but it proved too much for us.

“We always knew we had the potential to play for a medal. Obviously we’d prefer to be playing for the gold but it is our first Paralympics so to be playing for a bronze is quite an achievement.”

Head added: “Italy are extremely strong. Everyone at the Paralympics is a good player and they’ve achieved a lot to get here so there’s never going to be an easy game.”

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