TABLE tennis star Billy Shilton took a big stride towards Paralympic qualification after winning gold at the ITTF Costa Brava Spanish Open.

Shilton, from Stonehouse in Stroud, started his competition in Platja D’Aro with a 3-0 win against Arufuahirokazu Tateishi from Japan and secured top place in the group and a bye into the quarterfinals thanks to a 3-0 victory over Banyu Tri Mulyo from Indonesia.

The 25-year-old then defeated Belgian former World number one Marc Ledoux 3-1and then battled back from 2-1 down to beat Tokyo Paralympic bronze medallist Peng Weinan from China 3-2 and progress to the final.

Shilton beat Borna Zohil in five sets in Italy last week and he took the first 11-5 in the final before the 17-year-old from Croatia, silver medallist in the Brazilian Open last month, hit back to take the second 11-8. However, Shilton moved ahead again taking the third 11-4 and secured the gold 11-6 in the fourth.

"I’m unbelievably pleased to have won the tournament with some really good wins along the way," said Shilton. "I’m really proud and happy with how I’ve performed and mentally I was really strong and confident - trying not to put myself under too much pressure and just play my game.

"I’ve not been satisfied with the level I’ve been showing in tournaments over the last six months so I’m absolutely buzzing to be honest - it was much needed for me personally especially coming off the back of Italy which wasn’t the best performance.

"I’m unbelievably happy to have taken the gold and thankful for the team support – I was on late in the evening and they all stayed to support me. Matjaz (BPTT coach Matjaz Sercer) was also great in the corner - we’ve worked together a lot in Sheffield and it really showed so I’m very happy."