Sibley strengthens Olympic bid with national hat-trick

LEAMINGTON table tennis star Kelly Sibley completed a remarkable hat-trick at the English National Championships at Ponds Forge Leisure Centre in Sheffield last weekend.

The English number two won the singles title for a third time to cap a brilliant two days in which she also won the women’s and mixed doubles.

Sibley beat England number one Joanna Parker 4-1 in an absorbing match of attack versus defence, with the 23-year-old’s all-conquering powerplay eventually overcoming Parker’s defensive consistency.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Sibley, who was seeded two, had earlier won the women’s doubles for the fourth time, teaming up with Parker to beat Lauren Spink and Emily Bates 3-1, and the mixed doubles, where she and Darius Knight overcame Chris Doran and Hannah Hicks 3-0.

“The goal was to retain the singles title so to get three out of three was fantastic, especially the mixed doubles as we had lost the final last year,” said Sibley.

“I’ve worked really, really hard and I think that paid off.

“When Jo missed that last ball it was such a relief to think yes I’ve done it, all the hard work has paid off.

“And it was really good to do it in Olympic year.”

The victory puts Sibley in pole position to secure a place on the Great Britain team for London 2012.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Sibley has already made a shortlist of four from which the final three players will be selected in May, but the former Lillington Free Church player can save herself any sleepless nights by qualifying through next month’s European Olympic Qualifying tournament in Luxembourg.

The tournament forms part of busy period for the Sibley, with the World Team Championships kicking off in Germany on March 23.

However, Sibley is relishing the punishing schedule, believing she is in the form of her life.

“After putting in a good performance at the weekend, I’m confident going into the World Team Championships.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“I’m also in a really good position for the Olympics but anything can happen. I just need to stay focused.”

First up for Sibley, though, is an exhibition appearance tomorrow evening (Saturday) at St Nicholas Leisure Centre in Warwick which is being held to help raise funds for her Olympic bid.

In addition to putting on a demonstration with former Commonwealth gold medallist Alan Cooke, Sibley will be on hand to give tips to players taking part in a tournament running throughout the day.

And she is hoping her presence might help inspire the district’s next Kelly Sibley.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“Because there are so many boys playing and the number of girls is not quite as high, me and Jo [Parker] are always looking to help young girls come through,” she said.

“Hopefully tomorrow, young girls will be able to see me play and think ‘I wouldn’t mind doing that’.”

For more information about the exhibition which starts at 5.30pm, contact Dot Macfarlane on 498249 or log on to

Related topics: