JACK Hunter-Spivey is currently bidding to qualify for the Tokyo Paralympic Games in the World Qualification Tournament in Lasko, Slovenia, this week.

The 26-year-old from Widnes narrowly missed out on automatic qualification for the Paralympic Games on his world ranking in men’s class 5 and this week’s tournament represents the final opportunity to qualify for Tokyo.

This is the first time that a Para table tennis qualification tournament has been held for a Paralympic Games and with only one place available per class it is ‘winner-takes-all’, creating a unique challenge for the athletes in their first tournament for more than a year due to the pandemic.

“I’m seeing this tournament as an opportunity,” he said before heading out to Lasko.

“We haven’t played a tournament for so long now and if I can go out and win this competition it will stand me in good stead at the Paralympics as I’ll have played an extra competition than everyone else in Tokyo. I’m happy to be going out there and hopefully I can get the job done.

“I feel that I’ve definitely improved over the last 12 months and have used the lockdown to my advantage.

"I feel like a different player, but I don’t know what my opponents have been doing so it is a strange situation as we haven’t been able to gauge other people’s levels. But this is the best prepared I’ve ever been for a tournament and I’m feeling good.”

Hunter-Spivey achieved his childhood dream of representing his country in a Paralympic Games in Rio 2016 and admits that competing in Tokyo “would mean everything”.

He said: “My life is about being a Paralympian, being the best in the world and winning medals for my country so to put on that ParalympicsGB shirt again would be incredible. It is what has been driving me for the last five years and I can’t wait to see if I can do it.”