Powys table tennis star Grace Williams crowned world champion

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GRACE Williams is table tennis world champion after a superb victory in Spain.

The Llanfyllin High School alum was joined by Fliss Pickard in winning gold at the World Para Table Tennis Championships in Andalucia on Tuesday to claim gold in the women’s doubles 14 class.

Williams and Pickard beat Germany 3-0 in the final.

The pair, who started playing together last year, had already exceeded all expectations by beating France in the semi-finals before sweeping German duo Stephanie Grebe and Juliane Wolf.

Pickard and Williams started well and battled back 9-7 to win the first set 11-9 before dominating the second set 11-4.

At 4-1 in the third set, Germany took a time out, but the young British pair moved up to 9-6 and a short distance from the gold medal.

At 9-8 GB, coach Shaun Marples called a time out and at 10-8 Pickard and Williams had two match points.

The two went back and forth but at 11-10 it was the lucky third time and when Grebe’s shot went high in the air Pickard fell to the ground before being hugged by Williams.

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For Williams, 19, who only started playing table tennis five years ago, the championships marked her arrival on the world stage and her performance with Pickard more than justified the confidence that the team has in his talent and his potential.

Williams said: “I felt pressured before the game and a bit overwhelmed because it was a world championship final but I knew I had Fliss next to me and Shaun in the corner and I knew that whatever the outcome, they would be proud of me and I’d be proud of myself too.

“I didn’t think about it too much, but once we got off to a good start against Germany, I thought, ‘I really want it now’. As soon as we won the last point, I thought “that’s it”, but I haven’t really understood yet.”

Williams trains with Pickard and the rest of the British team at the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield where she also studies nutrition.

She added: “Coming to Worlds as a wildcard, I sort of expected to come for the experience and to learn what to do in matches – what to do on the table and off the table and see what others.

“But the fact that I’m here and I have a gold medal is just surreal and I can’t believe it.”

For BPTT Head of Course Coach Shaun Marples, the result is testament to the success of the development program he has led since 2013.

He said: “I am incredibly proud of them and what they have achieved.

“Being part of their journey from entering the program and progressing through the Performance program and their ability to deliver a mature performance like that on the biggest stage really shows you what great characters they both are.”

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