Kim Daybell has retired from Para table tennis ©Getty Images

Two-time Paralympian Kim Daybell has retired from table tennis to focus on his medical career at Britain's National Health Service (NHS).

The 30-year-old gave up the chance of competing at Tokyo 2020 after he committed to fighting the COVID-19 pandemic in a United Kingdom hospital.

He represented Britain at London 2012 - his home Games - before heading to Brazil for Rio 2016, but was unable to finish on the podium on both occasions.

"It was a really difficult decision and I took a long time to think about it," Daybell said.

"There have been a lot of ups and downs over the last few years and lots of points where I was thinking of calling it a day but in the end I wanted to let some time pass so I could make a rational decision about why I wanted to step away from the sport.

"It is sad to be leaving the team but I've spent the last 10 years travelling and playing the sport I love with people I care about so I couldn't ask for a lot more and it feels like the right time to move on.

"At some point I needed to commit to medicine, and it is a tough career which will require a lot of time and dedication, but I feel ready for that new challenge now."

Daybell joined the Para table tennis team in 2007 and went on to win 50 international medals - including seven singles titles, two European team medals and a Commonwealth silver at Gold Coast 2018 - during his 15-year career.

He became a student at Leeds University, where he studied for a degree in medicine, in 2010 and later qualified in his profession in 2018.

Daybell is currently working at a North London hospital.

In March 2019, he achieved a career-high world ranking of fifth in the men's class 10 but abandoned his efforts to compete in the 2020 Paralympics following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

He instead chose to work full-time at the hospital on a COVID-19 ward.

Daybell was denied a wildcard bid for the Games and he suffered the same results for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, which is where he wanted to conclude his career.

Despite missing out on both major events, Daybell is pleased with the path he has taken as he seeks to show greater disability representation at the NHS.

Kim Daybell opted to work full-time at a COVID-19 ward instead of training for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics ©Getty Images
Kim Daybell opted to work full-time at a COVID-19 ward instead of training for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics ©Getty Images

"I made the choice I made and I'm proud of that," he remarked.

"It was a very tough and difficult time but sometimes you do have to put your own aspirations and your own welfare on the back burner and do things for other people and that is just what needed to happen.

"I do think it is a shame because I feel I never quite made it back from Covid (sic) in terms of table tennis - it did put a stop to it and I struggled to get back to that top level in the world.

"Although I did feel let down by international Para table tennis I can't say that if it had never happened I'd be sitting here now having played Tokyo and the Commonwealth Games and I’d be retiring with no regrets.

"So I don't regret the decision but I'm happy that it is the end of a really difficult couple of years."

He added: "Having worked for the NHS for five years now I think I've only ever worked with one or two other disabled people.

"Only 1 per cent of NHS staff are disabled relative to 20 per cent of the population so there is a big gap there and I'd love to be able to help close that as well."