Born in Edinburgh in 1927, Helen Hamilton, nee Elliott, can lay claim to the title of Scotland’s most successful Table Tennis player in history. Captivated by the sport after playing Ping Pong in an air raid shelter during World War II, she would go on to win seven World Championships medals, including two Women’s Doubles gold, amid a glittering career.
Helen won the first of 13 consecutive Scottish Open Women’s Singles titles in 1946, only 3 years after she started playing. She gained her first Scottish cap in 1947 at the World Championships in Paris where she reached the quarter finals in the singles competition, a position she would match at each of the next three editions of this event.
She won the first of her World Championship medals the following year with silver in the Women’s Doubles, but it was in Stockholm in 1949 that she first struck gold alongside Hungary’s Gizella Farkas, repeating the feat in 1950 when she partnered England’s Dora Bergai. Bronze in the 1952 Women’s Doubles, a first Mixed Doubles medal with silver in 1955 and bronze in both Women’s and Mixed Doubles in 1957 completed her magnificent seven medal moments.
Winner at an array of Open Championships around Europe, she also took Women’s Doubles gold and Singles silver at the World University Games in 1955, and came out of retirement in 1971 to compete at the first Commonwealth Table Tennis Championships, held in Singapore.
She was inducted into the Scottish Sports Hall of Fame in 2003, the only Table Tennis player ever to be recognised in this way. She continued to give back to the sport as Honorary President of the Scottish Table Tennis Association and was twice nominated for President of the Commonwealth Table Tennis Federation. Helen died in 2013, shortly before her 86th birthday and will be remembered for her immense contribution to her sport, both in Scotland and around the world.