Megan’s delight at GB debut

Megan Shackleton at the Todmorden High School gym, who has been selected for training to compete in the wheelchair table tennis at the Rio 2016 Paralympics.
Megan Shackleton at the Todmorden High School gym, who has been selected for training to compete in the wheelchair table tennis at the Rio 2016 Paralympics.

Teenage wheelchair table tennis star Megan Shackleton has spoken about the “great experience” of making her international debut.

Megan, 14, was part of the Great Britain squad at the Belgian Open earlier this month, at which she competed in the singles and team events.

Despite being placed in a classification higher than usual, the Todmorden High School student overcame adversity to reach the quarter-finals of the singles competition, narrowly losing to her French opponent in a five set epic.

“I was really proud of that because I didn’t think I would get to the quarter finals,” she said.

“The deciding set kept going back to deuce. I fought hard for it but was just edged out.

“I was playing against the best players in the world for that category. It was good experience.”

Megan also represented Great Britain in the team competition.

When drawn against France, Megan faced the opponent who knocked her out of the singles competition.

But this time the outcome was different - Megan won in straight sets.

“It was my best match of the competition,” she said.

The Great Britain team was eventually knocked out by Mexico, who went on to win the gold medal.

Megan again fought hard against her Mexican opponent and took a thrilling match to a deciding set which she lost 13-11.

Reflecting on the event, Megan said: “I was a bit disappointed about the classification but I tried not to think about it.

“I was just there for the experience so I did as best I could.

“I thought they were going to beat me easily and I was worried about the standard but I raised my game and played my best.

“I was excited about it for weeks. I have wanted to compete for Great Britain since I was very young.

“I’ve worked hard for it and had to make sure that I kept focused on it and I didn’t get distracted.”

She said one of the highlights of the trip was meeting London 2012 gold medallist Jess Ennis.

Megan trains with the Great Britain squad once a week and is now preparing for a tournament in Slough later this month.

She thanked everyone who has supported her by holding fundraising events and donating money towards the cost of a new wheelchair.

“It’s nice to know that people are helping me to get a better chair to help me progress,” she said.