GB claim historic medal haul at World Intellectual Impairment Sport World Tennis Championships

Great Britain finished last week’s 5th World Intellectual Impairment Sport World Tennis Championships with an historic haul of three gold medals, as well as a silver and a bronze, after victories in the men’s singles and doubles finals capped a fantastic week for the Brits at the competition in Rakovnik, Czech Republic.

Great Britain had never won a medal at the event before but that changed when Fabrice Higgins finished as a triple world champion after winning gold in the men’s singles, men’s doubles and the team event.

With Chorley’s Higgins and Cheltenham’s Thomas Mellor having set up an all-British men’s singles final earlier in the week, their wait to decide the gold and silver medals ended in a 6-1, 6-0 victory for Higgins.

Higgins made another piece of history earlier in the week in his men’s singles semi-final after becoming the first player to ever beat the Czech Republic’s Ondrej Sedlisky in singles competition at an World Intellectual Impairment Sport event.

Mellor added his silver medal in the men’s singles to the gold medal he won alongside Higgins earlier in the week when they beat Australia’s leading players in both the semi-finals and final of the team event.

And Higgins claimed his third gold medal of the World Championships with another victory over Australian opposition when he partnered Birkenhead’s Peter Millar to beat Joshua Holloway and Mitchell James 7-5, 6-1 in the men’s doubles final.

“It was an incredible experience playing for Great Britain and it still hasn’t sunk in yet that I have won three gold medals. I have met lots of new friends who I hope to see again in future events and I have loved every second of it,” said Higgins.

“I enjoyed everything about this week taking part in the World Intellectual Impairment Sport World Championships in the Czech Republic. It was great meeting so many new people in tennis and I really enjoyed playing both singles and doubles as part of the GB team. I would like to say thank you to the Tennis Foundation and UK Sports Association for supporting us as we had great preparation for the event and I’m sure that helped us do so well,” added Millar.

Millar gained more success in the men’s consolation singles after beating Italy’s Antonio Catalano 6-4, 6-1. It was Millar’s second consolation singles win in an World Intellectual Impairment Sport event in three years after he also won the men’s consolation at the World Intellectual Impairment Sport Global Games in Italy in 2011. Millar was presented with a gold medal for his efforts, while fellow Brit Shain Lewis won the bronze medal for finishing third in the consolation singles.

Lewis and Mellor came close to another medal in the men’s doubles, but were beaten 6-1 in the bronze medal play-off by Australia’s Damien Phillips and Zvi Schweitzer.

“I’m extremely proud of the whole team, having worked with them closely in the build-up to the World Intellectual Impairment Sport World Championships,” said Team Manager Lesley Whitehead. “All the boys have done superbly and have all played a big part in what has been a historic week for British tennis in World Intellectual Impairment Sport competition. Hopefully this is just the beginning of more success to come at this level of competition.”

Results of the event can be found here.