Nearly a year on from claiming her first-ever Commonwealth Games medal, table tennis star Kelly Sibley is gunning for more success at this month’s European Games in Baku.
After coming up short on two previous occasions in Melbourne and Delhi – the latter via a fourth-place finish in team women’s event – Sibley finally got the chance to climb the medal rostrum at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
Partnered with Daniel Reed, the pair recovered from a semi-final loss to eventual champions and fellow England teammates Paul and Joanna Drinkhall, to beat Singapore’s Zhan Jian and Feng Tianwei to bronze.
It was one of five medals won by England’s table tennis players in Glasgow – the mixed doubles proving the most successful event with Liam Pitchford and Tin-Tin Ho completing a one-two-three – as the team finished second only to Singapore in the sport’s medal table.
Three of those players will reunite once more for this month’s inaugural European Games in the Azerbaijani capital with Sibley given the nod alongside male players Drinkhall and Pitchford.
They will this time wear the colours of Great Britain although Sibley is hopeful of recreating the successful team atmosphere of the England camp last summer.
“Glasgow was fantastic. We have a goal of five medals and we did that,” she said.
“The other guys gave great performances and the spirit in the camp was really high. Everyone was feeling really confident and it was great to come away with so many medals.
“It’s a real honour to be able to represent my country again at the European Games.
“It’s really not that far away now and getting the kit recently made it seem a lot more real.
“Training has been going well and hopefully I can have a good competition, I’d love to come away with a medal.”
Sibley comes into the Games off the back of a season with Lille-based side CP Lys LM 1, with the club finishing second in the French Pro A championship.
The 27-year-old is definitely clocking up the miles of travelling, with one eye also on next year’s Olympics in Rio.
But she insists the chance to sample table tennis in other countries is one not to be sniffed at – even if the language barrier does take some getting used to.
“I wouldn’t say I’m fluent in French yet but I can speak a bit,” she added.
“I would go out to France for the matches and stay for a bit and then come back. It’s really good practice being out there and playing in France.
“You come up against a good level of players and you get good crowds coming to watch.
“I’ve got a couple of options for next season so I’ll see where the best one is for me.”
© Sportsbeat 2015