Table tennis: Medal delight for Megan on GB duty

Megan Shackleton, 15, won a bronze medal in Romania

Megan Shackleton, 15, won a bronze medal in Romania

First published in Sport Lancashire Telegraph: Photograph of the Author by , Sports reporter

MEGAN Shackleton showed that she could be dining at the top table sooner than expected after winning a bronze medal in the Romania International Open in Cluj.

The 15-year-old from Todmorden is regarded as one for the future after breaking in to the Great Britain Pathway squad last year.

While the Rio Paralympics in 2016 may be a little too soon for the table tennis ace, a second international medal underlined her extreme talents.

For Megan, a pupil at Todmorden High School clinched a bronze medal for the Great Britain Para Table Tennis Team – her first individual medal.

Shackleton was the youngest member of the GB Squad and progressed to the knockout stages of the singles after wins over Giada Rossi from Italy and the Romanian Dorina Vargatu before finding the experienced Federica Cudia from Italy too good in the semi-finals.

“I think I played quite well,” said Shackleton. “I was focusing on my tactics and I’m beginning to understand more about what I need to do to win games.

“I’m really happy to win my first individual medal.”

Megan made an impressive international debut in October 2013 in the Belgium Open, reaching the quarter-finals of the class 4 singles event. “I’ve wanted to represent GB since I was very young so it was a dream come true,” she said.

In March 2014 she won her first international medal, partnering Sue Gilroy and Sweden’s Anna-Carin Ahlquist to a silver medal in the women’s class 4-5 team event at the Lignano Master Open in Italy.

Megan joined the GB Pathway Squad in 2013 and was selected for the Performance Squad in April 2014. A machinery related accident at the age of nine resulted in a fractured spine but the determination she showed in adapting to life in a wheelchair is also driving her to achieve success in her chosen sport.

“I had swum competitively from the age of five and played tennis,” she said.

“So I’ve always enjoyed sport.

“I first started playing table tennis at the age of 12 after I attended a Playground to Podium event in Leeds, where I met my coach Shaun Alvey and he persuaded me to come along to his club Albert Premier TTC regularly and I soon fell in love with the sport.”

After her accident Megan also tried wheelchair basketball and returned to the swimming pool, winning a number of medals at national level, but she is now focusing on table tennis.

“I’ve always liked racket sports,” she explains, “and I like table tennis because it is more about your ability.”

While Rio in 2016 may come too soon for her, Megan is hoping to continue her improvement and win her first international medals in 2014.

GB Pathway Squad coach Shaun Marples is in no doubt that Megan has the talent to succeed at the highest level.

“Megan has made fantastic progress over the short period of time she has been playing,” said Shaun.

“She has an attacking style, hits the ball strong over the table and with her attitude and dedication to the sport she has the potential to make it to the top in her class.”

A year 10 pupil at Todmorden High School, Megan is also receiving full support from her school to follow her dream of a table tennis career. “My school is very supportive,” she says, “and will give me work when I am away or if I need to catch up they’ll give me an hour after school to help me if I need it.

“Sport means a lot to me because it helps you to become the best that you can be.”

Megan was one of four GB medal winners in Romania with Paisley’s Martin Perry (20) taking bronze in the men’s class 6 singles and bronze in the men’s class 6-7 team event with 15-year -old Billy Shilton, and Thomas Matthews, 21, combining with Martin Barbierik from Slovakia to take bronze in the men’s class 1-2 team event.

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