LEEDS University medical student Kim Daybell says he’s more like the finished article ahead of his forthcoming appearance at the 2014 ITT Para Table Tennis World Championships.
Daybell, 22, heads for China next week hoping to achieve his first medal in a major championship at the competition taking place in Beijing from Saturday, September 6 until Monday, September 15.
And Daybell says he has improved leaps and bounds since his maiden World Championships appearance in Korea four years ago – an outing that was followed by representation for ParalympicsGB in London 2012.
“I was only 17 when I played in Korea four years ago and probably wasn’t quite ready,” said Daybell.
“I made the quarter-finals so it would be good to try and build on that.
“My level has come a long way since then and the standard of class 10 has gone through the roof.
“I’ve proved that I’m there or thereabouts with the best players in the world. I had a career-high ranking of five this year so I’m obviously there in the top six or seven but to win those big matches you need to be fully focused on your table tennis.
“And that is what I’ve been doing over the last two months going into the worlds so hopefully that will make the difference on the day.
“China should be amazing – it is the home of table tennis.
“Obviously the Chinese will be particularly strong and will want to do well in a home championships but it will be a good opportunity for the European countries to show how far they’ve come in the last five years.
“More players are deciding that they want to be part of Paralympic table tennis and the level is really high but that is good for the sport and good for us as we have to push ourselves harder.
“I’m a much better player than I was four years ago and think that my level has gone up since London 2012.
“I’m a lot more experienced now; I know how to handle the big points and hopefully that will help me.”
Daybell – originally from Sheffield – has certainly been putting in the groundwork ahead of his forthcoming worlds assignment training hard since finishing University for the summer at the beginning of July.
“It’s been really good to have a solid block of training,” said the Leeds student.
“It has helped me find my focus again and my form.
“We’ve just come back from an international training camp in Slovenia and it’s been good to play against sparring partners from other countries and different styles because that is what you have to be prepared for when you go to a tournament.”
And Daybell will have two tilts at glory given that he will also compete in the class 9-10 team event with Sheffield-based class 8 athlete Aaron McKibbin.
The pair took silver in the men’s class 10 event in Slovenia in May.
“I think we could surprise a few people,” said Daybell.
“Aaron is playing really well and has proved he can compete against the higher classes.
“We play some good doubles together so I think we could do well and if we both turn up in the day we could be a good team.”