By Nick Butler

Billy Shilton is one young British player benefiting from the collaboration with Brazilian stars ©BTTAD Great Britain's Para-table tennis team have forged links with the Brazilian Table Tennis Federation in order to boost their preparations for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.

So far, Bruna Costa Alexandre, ranked third in the world in the women's class 10, has visited to spend a 10 day visit training with the British team at the English Institute of Sport (EIS) in Sheffield.

In March 16-year-old British talent Billy Shilton will make the return journey, travelling to Piracicaba in Brazil to take on fellow class seven player Paulo Salmin in an exhibition match that will be shown live on national Brazilian television.

"Giving our players as much experience of training with and playing against top class international opposition can only help their development," said Britain's Performance Director Gorazd Vecko.

"We do not have a women's class 10 player and Bruna is a great sparring partner for our standing athletes.

"Billy is one of our most talented young athletes and the experience of travelling to Brazil and playing against one of their top players in a major venue will be invaluable for him at this stage of his career."

World champion Will Bayley is one more established British player who has benefited from training with international stars ©Getty ImagesWorld champion Will Bayley is one more established British player who has benefited from training with international stars ©Getty Images

The collaboration between the two nations comes at a key time in Olympic qualification, with the European season focused around October's continental Championships in Denmark. 

Regular training with international opposition is seen as a way to generate improvement by the British team, with the latest venture following on from previous collaborations with other European nations.

Reigning world champion in the class seven category, Will Bayley, has just returned from one such training camp in Slovakia, which involved training and matches with able-bodied, as well as Paralympic, players. 

"It was a brilliant experience," he said afterwards.

"The level of the other players was unbelievable and it really pushed us.

"We all improved dramatically during the week and it has taken us to a new level."

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