CRAIG ALLEN feels his training is starting to pay off after the British Para table tennis athlete came away with two bronze medals at the Copa Cristina Hoffmann in Cancun, Mexico.
Allen, from Bromsgrove, is a Class 9 athlete and began the singles tournament with a close four-set defeat to 18-year-old PanAmerican Championships team bronze medallist Julian Chinchilla Ramos.
The Bromsgrove athlete won the third set 11-8, having trailed 2-0 to the 2021 Copa Costa Rica champion before his Colombian opponent edged a tight fourth set 13-11 to take the match.
However, Allen responded with a 3-0 win against unranked teenager Louis Vera Poguio from Ecuador to secure his place in the semi-finals.
Allen then faced off against world number 10 Tahl Leibovitz in the last four as the American used all of his experience to claim a 3-0 win.
And despite Leibovitz being a seven-time PanAmerican champion and former Paralympic champion, Allen had his chances in the match but was unable to take advantage.
Allen said: “Overall, I’m happy with my performance and how I played against Tahl as he is a tricky player.
“I had my chances in the sets on numerous occasions but wasn’t quite able to take them.
“At 7-5 in the first set and 8-8 in the second there was everything to play for but I couldn’t finish the sets off.
“Now I need to watch the videos back home with my coach and work on the areas where I let the sets get away from me.
“I have been playing against different styles in training over the last few months and it is really starting to pay off.”
And Allen made it a trip to remember with another bronze in the doubles with Ryan Henry.
The pair began with a 3-0 win against Mexican duo Efrain Edgardo Espinosa Urzua and Enrique Preza before securing victory by the same scoreline against Hernan Rojas Fonseca and Nixon Reyes from Costa Rica.
And Allen and Henry claimed top spot in their group with a 3-1 success over teenage pair Miguel Castro and Santiago Ramirez from Colombia.
The duo swept aside Amilkar Naranjo and Jose David Bernal Gil from Colombia in the quarter-finals with another 3-0 victory (14-12, 11-7, 14-12).
However, their superb run came to an end in the semi-finals with a 3-1 defeat by Colombian second seeds Jose David Vargas Pirajan and Alvaro Francisco Puerto Alvarez with the former a five-time PanAmerican Championship medallist and the latter a class 10 PanAmerican team medallist.
Allen added: “I feel Ryan and I played well together, losing only one set in the group matches and winning the quarter-final 3-0.
“It was a very close match in the semi-final and considering Ryan and I haven’t played together for a very long time we complemented each other very well.
“I think with a bit more practice we could win that match next time.”
Allen is a Pathway athlete and was part of a four-strong squad that travelled to Mexico with all four athletes coming away with medals in the singles events.