David Wetherill Reflects After The Olympics 13/9/12

David Wetherill, represented Team GB at the London Paralympic Games and is the superhuman behind that superman diving forehand winner that I am sure you have all seen on Youtube (Video Below)! David, who has a congenital bone condition called Multi Epiphyseal Dysplasia, took up table tennis five years ago. He went to the 2006 IPC Table Tennis World Championships as the youngest player on the GB squad and the second from youngest player in the whole tournament and also represented Great Britain at the Beijing Paralympics, reaching the final 8. We caught up with David and found out how he was feeling after the Paralympics and get some more details on that amazing shot!

Thanks very much for taking the time to talk to ADPP David. Before we talk about this years main event, lets learn a little more about your history in the sport. You have not been playing as long as your talent level may suggest, what drew you into table tennis?

“I started playing when I was about 10 at my local club in Cornwall (Crafthole Table Tennis Club). My dad plays in the local league and does a lot of coaching so he was the main reason for me getting into it. I loved it from the start as it is a sport I can feasibly play and compete on a level playing field with able-bodied athletes, as well as being so fast and explosive. Anyone who plays table tennis will understand why I love it! I was always trying to beat my dad and my older brother so that was a big target of mine for a while. But now I’m much better than them and can beat them easily! But yeah, it was only really from when I was about 15 that I started to take it more seriously, playing for Woolwell TTC in national competitions etc.”

And at what point did the sport become more than just a hobby?

“I played my first international tournament in June 2005 in Norway, and it was then that I first got my desire to do well in the Paralympics. I wasn’t really aware before then of what the Paralympics was all about so that opened my eyes a little as I saw what hard work needed to be put in in order to achieve.”

Now onto the Paralympics. How did your preparation go in the build up for the games?

“I have been training at the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield for the past four years since Beijing, alongside my studies in Biological Chemistry at the University Of Sheffield. This is where the national squad train (Olympic and Paralympic) so we’re all friends and there’s a brilliant atmosphere, good training environment not to mention fantastic practice partners! The facilities are world class and made it easier to combine sport and education. I’ve had to be careful with my time-management etc as it hasn’t been easy. I graduated in 2011 so this past year I’ve just been training full-time and my level has increased dramatically…hopefully I’m able to continue playing full time now London has finished…I want to win a medal in Rio! Its something I’m definitely capable of doing.

I think the experience I had in Beijing four years ago stood me in good stead as I knew what to expect in terms of preparation and Village life etc. But nothing could prepare me for the shear support that we received, the crowd was unbelievable. I was so nervous but it definitely spurred me on so I can’t thank everybody enough. It was great to have my family and friends there as well as they’ve never really seen me play properly for a while.”

And although you didn’t make it into the Quarterfinals, you must be pleased with your performance at the Paralympics?
“I’m pleased in terms of giving it my all and trying my best, even though the result is somewhat disappointing. Satisfaction lies in the effort, not in the attainment. I felt that I was able to win a medal so maybe I put a little bit too much pressure under myself. I shouldn’t be scared to lose, I think I tightened up a little so it was not a technical reason why I lost, more mental. Beijing was so much different in terms of the biggest stage, but this time all eyes were on me cheering me on! In Beijing I wasn’t a favourite, the roles were reversed. I think I’m much better for this experience though, I just wish I could have a second chance!.”

And talk us through your ‘Superman diving forehand winner?’ That has to be the shot of the championships, Ma Long would have been pleased with that one!!

“I know its incredible! I grew up watching YouTube videos of the greatest shots and now people are saying mine is up there with the rest of them, so that’s a big honour for me! Its not for me to say whether I’m an inspiration or not, but people are telling me such things, so that’s only good for table tennis and the Paralympics. I think its helped expose just how high the level of play is in the Paralympics…it is sometimes right up there with the Olympics – just witness Natalia Partyka. In terms of the shot, I just wanted to do everything I could to get to the ball, because I knew that if I could reach it, I would be able to get it on the table. I got tucked up in my crossover and he blocked me wide so I just flung myself across, determined to get to the ball. It was very instinctive. I didn’t actually know whether it had hit or not…I had to ask my coach in the corner. Even then, I couldn’t hear his reply because the crowd was so loud…I only realised it was my point when I got up and looked at the scoreboard!”

How did you rate your Olympic Experience? What was the Opening ceremony like?

“Overall, it was the best experience of my life. We all felt like superstars…I think London has helped expose just how incredible Paralympians are, and what they can achieve considering their limitations. I didn’t actually go to the opening ceremony because my first match was the next day and wanted to be fully prepared. I won that match so I think it paid off!”

And moving forward, you must be looking forward to Rio 2016 more than ever now, when will your preparation for that begin?

“Yeah, we’ve been given a month off from training, and don’t go back in the National Centre until November I think. But I’m desperate to get back in straight away…London has only served to motivate me more, I desperately wanna win that medal in Rio!”

And Finally, you have a very inspirational story David and have really showed true heart at the Paralympics. Are there any words of wisdom you can give those who are chasing their dream?

“I think these words, which are fresh in my mind from the mistakes I made in London perfectly sum things up….1) is to not be scared of losing, be free and enjoy yourself. That way you’ll play better. 2) No matter what hurdle you face, you should always try your best. Quote from Ghandi: “Satisfaction lies in the effort, not in the attainment. Full effort is full victory.”

It is clear that David is a man who lives life to the complete full. Not only is has he represented his country at the Paralympics twice (and he is still only 22), he has graduated with an incredible degree from Sheffield University and has plans to study for a masters degree whilst training for Rio 2016! If all else fails, it looks as if he could have a career as a!
philosophist with his Ghandi Quotes! We wish David luck in his quest to take a medal home in 4 years time at Rio!


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