“To be selected for the Commonwealth Games was incredible. It is something I watched on TV when I was younger and something I’ve always wanted to compete in. It is an honour to compete for my country – normally I’m competing for GB but this time it was for England and I was really looking forward to experiencing another multi-sport Games.
“I spent several weeks last year travelling around Australia including the Gold Coast and I have to admit that it is my favourite country – after England. I loved the country and the people and I was looking forward to seeing how they would host such a major event.
“Before the Commonwealth Games I competed in the Italian Open in March where I took bronze in the singles and silver in the team event with Aaron (McKibbin). I don’t feel that I played my best but it was the first competition of the year and it was a positive for me that I medalled in singles and team. It also gave me a few things to work on before heading out to Australia.
“Being part of Team England was a great experience. Just to experience another multi-sport Games was incredible. The village was amazing and Australia really did do a great job.
“I personally learnt a lot from spending time with the able bodied England players because they approach things a little bit differently to us in terms of training and playing matches so I was trying to learn as well as compete while I was there. You can learn from anybody really so to be around someone of our guys’ level was something I can improve from and that will be something that I put into my training in future.
“The first match against the Australian Barak Mizrachi went really well. It was quite hard going out there in front of an Australian crowd because whenever you are playing against the home crowd it is always difficult but I knew that before the match and I just had to deal with it and play my game.
“My second match was really tough and I had to come back from 2-1 down to beat the class 10 South African Theo Cogill in five sets. He was moving the play around quite well and not doing anything the same and he was very consistent so I had to play well and dig deep. Fortunately I was able to do that and managed to come through in the end and get the win.
“A 3-0 win against the Nigerian Temitope Ogunsanya ensured that I won my group and set up a semi-final against my GB team mate Josh Stacey who was representing Wales.
“I knew it was going to be a really hard match because Josh is a very good player and a really tough opponent. I had to counter his really strong start and I changed my tactics so I felt like I addressed that and was more positive in the second set and I thought I followed up on my serves better. The third set was very important and one of the turning points in the match. I managed to edge it 12-10 and then clinched the match 11-9 in the fourth.
“It was a great feeling to get through to the final but also a bit strange as I would be competing against my England team mate and good friend Kim Daybell. It is always difficult to play one of your team mates – we were sharing a room as well so we had quite a few jokes the night before but we kept everything the same as we would preparing for any match.
“Kim is a great player and a really tough opponent so after losing the first game I really thought I was in trouble. I was down in the second one towards the end of the match and the pressure was really on so it was a great feeling to come through it and to share the moment with Kim as well. To get a gold and silver for England was an absolutely amazing feeling.
“It was fantastic to see Josh get the bronze medal as well which meant that British athletes took gold, silver and bronze. I’m really happy that we could manage to do that.
“I’m really proud to be Commonwealth champion. It is something I’ve always dreamed of and to go out and win was just an absolutely amazing feeling and one I can’t really describe. My family loved it – I had some family in Brisbane that came and watched me, some that come from Sydney and flew up to the Gold Coast to watch and my mum and her partner came from England so it was fantastic to have them all there supporting me and to share that moment with them was something I’ll never forget.
“I’ve taken a bit of down time since I got back just to regather because I’ve still got a lot of competitions this season so I’ve not tried to go out and celebrate too much. It is a big thing for me individually to win but now it is about getting back to training and carrying on the competitions. A week later I was competing in the British Para Table Tennis National Championships in Grantham and I was delighted to retain my class 8 and Open Standing singles titles. To win the Commonwealth title was a dream come true but to win a National title is always something special.
“I think I’m really playing to my strengths so far this season and I’ve found a way to play again where I can play with more feeling and more within myself. I’m more confident playing like that and learning more every day so hopefully I can keep on improving over the next few months leading up to the World Championships in October.”