Nathan Thomas was on Team GB duty once again over the weekend as the Cardiff Coach attended the Spanish Para Open in Barcelona. Competing in the class 10 category at the major event on the International Para Table Tennis calendar, the competition would see Nathan add to his impressive tally of international medals.
Nathan’s Singles campaign began in uncertain fashion on Friday afternoon as the GB player fell to a 3-1 defeat at the hands of the host nation’s own Angel Garrido. With two players progressing from each group though all was not yet lost and victory in Nathan’s two following matches would still be enough to secure the player’s progress into the knock-out stage.
Nathan’s next match saw a reversal of the first score as Nathan this time came out on top of a 3-1 result against Russian Ivan Karpov, keeping hopes alive of Nathan’s survival in a tough group.
The final group stage opponent for the Cardiff coach had travelled all the way from Chile to take part in the tournament. Although Alvaro Hernan Vega Gutierez was already effectively out of the race for medals after two opening defeats, Nathan could not afford any complacency if he wanted to avoid sharing in Gutierez’s fate. In temperatures of over 28 degrees in the stuffy hall, Nathan kept his cool and came through the clash with Gutierez in straight sets.
Two victories in the group stage meant that Nathan progressed from his group along with the still undefeated Spaniard Angel Garrido. From the other group Nathan’s fellow GB player Rajan Waterman went up in second place behind Austrian Krisztian Gardos.
It was to be Gardos that the Cardiff Coach would need to face in the final four, the same player who had proved to be Nathan’s undoing in the Final of his last major Para Open back in March at the Hungarian city of Eger. In their first meeting earlier this year Gardos had triumphed 3-0, and that result was to be repeated in Barcelona, leaving the GB player to settle for a Singles Bronze after another elimination at the hands of Gardos; brother of world number 23 Robert Gardos and an accomplished player in his own right, having once taken a sixteen year old Ma Long to six sets.
There was to be a second charge at the medal places on Sunday as Nathan joined up with Englishman Rajan Waterman to form GB’s entry into the Class 10 Team Event. The five team round robin competition saw Team GB on a run of comprehensive 3-0 victories before colliding with a combined team from Russia and Austria of Ivan Karpov and Krisztian Gardos. Once again Gardos was to prove a thorn in the side of British medal hopes. Although Nathan this time took a set off the Austrian and two from Karpov, it was not to be enough to prevent the GB side slipping to an overall defeat against the combined team. Straight wins for Karpov and Gardos secured them Gold in the Team Event. Nathan and Rajan’s otherwise impeccable campaign was enough to earn the British players a Silver medal for their efforts.
Two medals from Spain closes off an impressive season for Nathan Thomas on the international stage. Nathan, who spent much of the early part of the year recovering from a major operation on his shoulder, claimed four medals from the two international Opens he was able to attend. His strong performance on the Costa Brava last weekend closely follows Nathan’s successful defence of his Standing Disabled National Title at the Welsh Championships earlier this month.