Inspiring Others and Changing Lives
Some people come into this world to achieve great things and whilst it has not been an easy ride, perhaps for that very reason Will has never given up and never stopped in his quest to reach the top and he continues to enjoy every moment of the journey.
Will is very excited to be joining the Inspired Athletes team and is very much looking forward to the opportunity to inspire more people to participate in sport.
Will was born with arthrogryposis, a rare congenital disorder that affected all of his limbs and his feet were splinted from birth. He had a number of reconstruction operations but aged 3, with the aid of magic Pedro boots, Will was able to walk. Aged seven Will was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and whilst recovering after chemotherapy discovered he was able to play a good game of table tennis. Will’s grandmother bought him his first table tennis table and he persevered with the game joining Byng Hall Table Tennis Club in Tunbridge Wells. He continued to improve which led to him representing Kent men’s able-bodied team, where his game went from strength to strength.
After full-time education, Will began a Theatre Studies course, but continued to train and compete and a meeting with Joe Stotesbury who played for the Paralympic team, led to them both moving to Filton College, to continue their studies. Will’s great friend and coach Kevin Satchell, Head of Bristol Table Tennis Academy, is cited by Will as the reason for much of his success. Will soon joined the Paralympic squad and was selected to play for Great Britain at the 2008 Beijing Paralympics. It took the World No. 1 Jochen Wollmert to remove Will from medal contention but since then Will has taken on the best in the world. Will returned from 2011 European Championships with gold in the singles, silver in the team event and was voted European Players Player of the Year 2011.
The Paralympics was Will’s opportunity to prove his ability both as an individual athlete and as part of a team. He was very proud to be a part of ParalympicsGB at London 2012. In the Class 7 Singles event Will took silver losing to Jochem Wollmert in an emotional five game final. His achievement in winning silver marked Paraympics GB first men’s singles table tennis medal since Atlanta in 1996! In the Class 6-8 team event with Ross Wilson and Aaron McKibbin, Will took bronze, thus avenging his loss to Wollmert with a decisive victory beating him 11-9, 11-2, 11-8.
The Paralympics GB team’s medal tally at London 2012 was four medals, three Bronze and one Silver, the most ever at a Paralympics and Will can be credited for half of those medals! World ranked number two at the start of 2014, Will won gold at both the Lignano Master Open and the Slovenia Open prior to the World Championships in China. After beating Paralympic champion Jochem Wollmert in the group stages he defeated Popov in the semis and then beat world number one Nikolenko in the final to become World Champion. This fantastic achievement was recognised in Dec 2014 when he won the Disability Sport award at the inaugural Daily Mirror and Sport England Pride of Sport Awards.
Despite a foot injury delaying his start to the 2015 season, Will still reached the final in Slovenia, and then with new team partner Billy Shilton took gold in the team event. In June he regained the World number one ranking and in October reached his fifth consecutive major singles final at the European Championships, taking silver after losing 3-1 to an inspired Jean-Paul Montanus from the Netherlands.
In the run up to the Rio Olympics in 2016, Will produced a great performance to take gold in the Slovenia Open in May and went to the Paralympics as one of the favourites for gold. He bounced back from a 3-1 loss in his first group match to reach the final of men’s class 7 and defeated Stroh 3-1 to become Paralympic Champion.
2016 Paralympic Games – gold, men’s singles (class 7); bronze, men’s teams (class 6-8)
2015 European Championships – silver, men’s singles (class 7); silver, men’s teams (class 7)
2014 World Championships – gold, men’s singles (class 7); bronze, men’s teams (class 6-7)
2013 European Championships – silver, men’s singles (class 7); bronze, men’s teams (class 7)
2012 Paralympics Silver men’s singles (1st medal since Atlanta in 1996); Class 6-8 team event Bronze
2011 European Championships Gold singles’ Silver team
2011 Voted European Players Player of the Year
2008 Beijing Paralympics
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