Burnley’s Felicity Pickard off to China Open to try and boost Paralympic qualifying hopes

GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 12: Felicity Pickard of England competes in the Women's TT6-10 Singles Group 1 games against Maitreyee Sarkar of India during Table Tennis on day eight of the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games at Oxenford Studios on April 12, 2018 on the Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Jono Searle/Getty Images)
GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 12: Felicity Pickard of England competes in the Women's TT6-10 Singles Group 1 games against Maitreyee Sarkar of India during Table Tennis on day eight of the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games at Oxenford Studios on April 12, 2018 on the Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Jono Searle/Getty Images)

Burnley’s Felicity Pickard is part of a squad of eight athletes from the British Para Table Tennis Team who will compete in the ITTF Para China Open in Hangzhou this weekend, looking to improve their world ranking and their chances of qualification for the Paralympic Games in Tokyo next year.

The squad includes 20-year-old Megan Shackleton, from Todmorden, who has broken into the world’s top 10 in women’s class 4 after some good performances at the European Championships in Sweden last month.

“I’m looking forward to testing myself out in China this week,” she said. “I can take confidence going into the tournament from my recent performance at the Europeans, and hopefully I can carry on that good form.

“To break into the top 10 is a great step for me.

“It had been a goal of mine for a while, so to finally achieve it feels great, but now I’m ready to carry on pushing myself to keep moving upwards. I’ll be looking to continue to stick to the processes I know worked well for me in Sweden and hopefully taking a few more good wins along the way.”

The full squad for the ITTF Para China Open, which begins today, is: Kim Daybell (men’s class 10); Ashley Facey Thompson (men’s class 9); Jack Hunter-Spivey (men’s class 5); Martin Perry (men’s class 6); Fliss Pickard (women’s class 6); Megan Shackleton (women’s class 4); Billy Shilton (men’s class 8); Joshua Stacey (men’s class 9).