Triumph in the face of adversity is what springs to mind when you speak to table tennis player Gavin Rumgay. The British number two from Perth has just lost his funding as part of the cuts to the Olympic Development Squad, for being ‘too old’ at the tender age of 26 and yet his response has been mature beyond his years, letting his game do the talking.
Rumgay has beaten the British number one, Paul Drinkhall, in their last two meetings starting at the Wolverhampton Grand Prix in May where he secured the 18th British Grand Prix title of his career. However it was this latest win against Drinkhall at the World Team Championships in Moscow last month, along with some other significant wins in the same tournament, that saw Gavin make a meteoric rise thirty places up the world rankings and land himself recognition by Commonwealth Games Scotland and Clydesdale Bank as the Athlete of the Month for May. In addition to the accolade, he receives a much needed cheque for £500 towards training and competition costs.
The scheme, being run by Commonwealth Games Scotland in conjunction with Clydesdale Bank as part of its programme of support to Team Scotland, is open to athletes in any of the 17 participating sports who are eligible to represent Scotland at this year’s Games in Delhi.
“This award couldn’t have come at a better time for me”, said Rumgay. “To make matters even worse I recently had my car stolen which makes me totally reliant on others to get to training and competitions, so I would really like to thank Clydesdale Bank for their support, which has given me a real boost.”
Despite the challenge of finding the funding to remain part of the British table tennis set-up based at the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield, Rumgay is determined to keep his focus firmly fixed on securing his place on Team Scotland for the Commonwealth Games in Delhi in October.
Whilst still to have their selection confirmed by Commonwealth Games Scotland, Table Tennis Scotland is quietly confident they have a good chance of qualifying for the men’s team competition based on their combined world rankings, demonstrating the potential to finish in the top eight at the Games. This would then make the three players eligible to also compete in the singles and doubles events. sportscotland, the national sports agency, is working closely with Table Tennis Scotland to ensure that Gavin and his teammates have the necessary support in place to make their final preparations for Delhi.
“It would mean everything to me to qualify for Delhi”, said Rumgay. “I made my Commonwealth Games debut in Manchester in 2002 which was a fantastic experience and then we were really disappointed not to be selected for Melbourne. It has been a real rollercoaster ride, but I would love to lead our men’s team in Delhi and show just what we can do ahead of a home Games in Glasgow in 2014.”
The six times Scottish senior singles champion might be down, but he is certainly not out