“Becoming World champion has been a dream of mine since I was seven years old and I still can’t believe that I have done it.
“I was so logical throughout the competition and was just trying to focus on my game, what I was doing and how I was going to win points and then all the emotion just came out at the end. It was an amazing feeling.
“I was feeling a bit nervous for a couple of weeks before the World Championships but I like to have a bit of nerves because getting those nerves is the best way to prepare for it because then you know what you are going to do under the pressure. The day before when you are waiting to hear the draw for the group stages is when the butterflies really start to kick in but after you hear the draw you start thinking about what you are going to do and what your strategy is going to be; what tactics you are going to use against those players and how you are going to go into those games.
“I knew I was going to have a fight on my hands in both group matches so I was very focused from the start. I went for it and took my chances and won both my group matches so I knew at the end of the first day that I was safely through to the knockout stages. As group winner and number three seed I went straight through a quarter-final against the Frenchman Thomas Bouvais.
“I struggled with him a bit in the Europeans last year and he beat one of the Chinese players in the previous round and was playing well so I knew it was going to be difficult. I knew I was going to have to come in strong from the start and I did. I prepared really well and got in the right mind-set straight away and that helped me a lot so I was really happy with the way I performed in that match.
“At that stage I was assured of a medal and I think in the past I would have thought ‘I’ve got a medal now and that takes the pressure off and I can just play freely’ but when I am in the training hall I’m always training to win and the gold medal has always been a dream of mine.
“My semi-final opponent Marcin Skrzynecki from Poland is really tactically good so he can exploit your movement weaknesses a lot. He did that to me in Rio and in the Europeans last year so I had to figure out how to deal with it this time around and hope that he couldn’t do that if I changed my game up a little bit. I’ve been working a lot on it in training for the past few months with all the coaches and it paid off. When you are doing it day in and day out in the training hall it gets boring but at the end of the day I’ve put the hours in and that is what got me the win.
“I knew the final was going to be a level up again from the previous rounds as my opponent was the double Paralympic champion from China, Zhao Shuai. A lot of the class 8 players can play a strong shot and then they’ll have to come back and play a bit of a weaker shot and then they can get in a strong shot again. But Zhao Shuai can go from shot to shot carrying on being strong and dominate games so I knew I was up against a really great player.
“He has beaten me a number of times before and I’ve always struggled with his variation and the way he changes the pace in the game. He’s also got good power and placement and he plays really well on the tight points and that does put you under a lot of pressure knowing that your opponent is really good when it gets tight. So I knew I was going to have to really up my level in the final and I just kept thinking as logically as could and stuck to my strategy no matter what situation I was in.
“I think I saved three match points and that for me was crazy. When you are match point down it is hard. You can’t think of it as just another point because you know that if you lose that point that’s it. You’re focused for every point but you’re extremely focused when it is match point and you want it that bit more. To come back from three of them being under that much pressure was amazing.
“When I had my own match point I just saw my chance and I took it. When you are thinking logically it takes the emotion out of things so when I was playing I wasn’t showing much emotion but as soon as I won that final point it hit me straight away. I knew I had won and all the emotions hit me at once and it was just an incredible feeling.
“After so many injuries winning the World title means everything to me. When you are injured so many times you begin to doubt if it will actually happen for you. You doubt yourself a bit as well but you have to keep going and just believe in yourself through all that time and think that if there could be a chance – even the slightest chance – that is enough.
“This year after winning gold at the Commonwealths I couldn’t believe it and now to be surrounded by the best players in the world and come out on top is just fantastic.
“It is just about pushing on now. There is so much room for improvement still and when I get back in the training hall I’ll look at ways to do that. It has been an amazing year from me with the Commonwealths and now this – I really can’t believe it to be honest. I’m going for Tokyo now and that is my main goal.”