Walthamstow's Paralympian And NHS Hero

Kim Daybell, is a Walthamstow resident, Great British para table tennis player and training to be a medical doctor. Whilst we all had issues during the pandemic Kim was one of the NHS heroes on the front line in the Covid Wards of north east London hospitals. Unsurprisingly, this had a negative impact on Kim’s table tennis training as due to Covid restrictions he wasn’t able to practice with other players and he narrowly missed out on selection for the Tokyo Paralympics. In April, Kim will be heading to the National Championships in Sheffield and is focused on regaining a title he once won 8 years in a row.

It is in Sheffield that Waltham Forest’s GLL Sport Foundation Ambassador sporting journey first began. Kim benefitted from having a table in his family garage when he was 9 years old. After 6 months of practice Kim started on a table tennis club pathway which would eventually lead him to an individual silver medal at the Commonwealth Games in Australia 2018 via the London 2012 Paralympics and Rio 2016.  

As a result of his Poland’s Syndrome Kim plays as class 10 para table tennis athlete but incredibly up until17 he played as an able bodied England national. As life leads you down different pathways Kim prioritised education and if he was to achieve international sporting success too he was encouraged to take part in para sport as he can find a more realistic balance with the amount of training required. If you are reading this and unsure of Kim’s disability you are mistaken as he was born with no fingers on his right hand so had a bilateral toe transport when he was 2 years old to give him use of his hand.  Furthermore he has no pectoral muscles on his right side. Kim’s ability at all racquet sports is impressive and he was a county level badminton player when he was younger. Any parents of regional level athletes should apply for the ‘training’ level of support from GLL Sport Foundation.  

Kim moved to London in 2018 after graduating university and has benefitted from GLL Sport Foundation funding since 2019 after hearing about the programme through a friend from Leyton. Kim said “I train at the Waltham Forest Feel Good Centre, I have been a GSF athlete now for 4 years and they have been providing the support I need for my training and strength and conditioning.”

There is a common misconception that table tennis is purely an individual sport but the team dynamics are massive. There are both individual and team medals to win. As tournaments progress players in a match against a teammate as Kim did in 2017 during the Commonwealth.  When asked about Kim’s favourite achievement it was a European team silver after lots of previous frustration. Support and structure help a players growth, at one point Kim said GLL Sport Foundation offers that too, “they (GLL Sport Foundation) give me the platform I need to perform at the highest level in the Paralympic Games. I really appreciate everything they have done for me over the years and they have been the most supportive people I could ask for.”

In 2022 GLL funded 30 athletes in Waltham Forest and 86% received no other funding so highly value the support. This year there is an ambition to fund more athletes and create that sense of community between them all.