HAVING proved he can mix it with the best, para table tennis star Billy Shilton is confident of medal glory ahead of the European Championships in Helsingborg.

The Stonehouse-born athlete is still only 20-years-old, but is already an established name on the men’s class eight circuit having made his international debut back in 2013.

And Shilton has pedigree on the European stage, having claimed class seven singles bronze and team silver in 2015, and class eight team bronze two years later.

Since then, the former Maidenhill School pupil has gone from strength to strength, and heads to Sweden in the form of his life.

Shilton has three singles medals to his name in 2019, including silvers at the Bangkok and Polish Opens, and gold at the Czech Open at the beginning of September.

Now, he is hoping to carry that success on to one of the sport’s biggest stages, and he is confident he couldn’t have hoped for better preparation.

“It was great to win that tournament just before the European Championships,” he said. “I think I’m currently the best I’ve ever been.

“My season’s been really good on the whole. Getting silver in Poland was great because I beat three players ranked above me on the way to the final, so I’ve shown I’ve got what it takes to do well.

“Then obviously winning a tournament just a few days before flying out to Sweden is ideal, and I beat a few players who I could come up against at the Europeans so that should stand me in good stead.

“I’m still young but I’m just trying to compete with the best players in the world and it seems to slowly all be coming together.”

At such a young age, Shilton believes he is in a strong position to cement his place among the leading names in his class for years to come.

And with the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics on the horizon, the ITTF world number 17 has one eye on claiming a spot on the sport’s biggest stage.

He said: “A lot of people at my level are older so playing tough opponents while I’m still quite young is great experience. I think that will really benefit me later on.

“With how I’m performing at the moment, my chances of making the plane for Tokyo seem quite good.

“I’ve just got to make the most of every tournament that comes, play the best I can and then hopefully that’ll be enough. That starts with the Europeans now.”

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