Table Tennis England The Winning Edge Issue 6 - Page 5

MEDAL MAKERS 5

I ndividual athlete plans , competition plans for the year , psychology , physiotherapy , strength and conditioning . The list of tailored coaching and advice given to the British Para team is extensive . And impressive .

With UK Sport boosting their funding from £ 3million to £ 3.5m for the next four years , the challenge is for the players and staff to do everything possible to rake in even more medals at Tokyo in 2020 .
‘ Once players arrive with us we add a lot to their training ,’ begins Shaun Marples , Pathway Manager at British Para TT and a key piece of the elite level set-up , linking as he does the grass – roots with the international .
Having previously worked as a regional development manager , Marples is in the ideal position to compare the attention given to players at a local level with the support they get at British Para TT . It ’ s a vast gulf .
‘ The coaching sessions themselves are much more tailored towards an individual ’ s game . Martin Perry for example , one of our Class 6 athletes , is an amputee on both arms , so he doesn ’ t have wrist functionality .
‘ He ’ s also a leg amputee from the knee so he uses a prosthetic leg . Working with Table Tennis Scotland , we were able to find Martin some support that would benefit his performance . He has a fantastic level of support back home that helps him with his prosthesis . It then took time for us to position the prosthetics so that they ’ d help his performance both in training and at international competitions .
‘ The key thing is working in partnership with his coach back home in Glasgow . Before he moved down to Sheffield , we looked at different exercises he could do that would benefit his class , and built his athlete plan to balance training , competition , and rest periods .’
More important than the physical resources available at the elite level is the time , focus and experience of the six-strong non-playing staff .
‘ The coaches have a great knowledge of the international game , which is really important in terms of understanding what a particular class looks and plays like around the world ,’ explains Marples .
Billy Shilton for example , who is Class 8 , gets access to the knowledge of the coaches and also has two teammates who are Class 8 and have valuable international experience in winning major medals .
‘ The athletes are in an environment here where they get that access on a daily basis – they are here