Commonwealth Games Scotland today announced its team of seven Table Tennis players selected to represent Team Scotland at Glasgow 2014. The team is a good blend of experienced players and youth with three of the men having competed in previous Commonwealth Games, whilst for the other four this will be their first experience of a multi-sport event.
Perth-born Gavin Rumgay is Scotland’s leading player and the team’s most experienced member, having competed in the Manchester 2002 and Delhi 2010 Games. Niall Cameron and Craig Howieson are both back for their second Games after competing in Manchester and Delhi respectively. Sean Doherty, Gillian Edwards, Lynda Flaws and Corinna Whitaker will be making their Games debut in Glasgow.
Table Tennis is a relative newcomer to the Games. It was introduced in Manchester 2002 and has been in the Games ever since. Table Tennis has its own Commonwealth Championships and its most recent event, held in Delhi last year, acted as a selection event for Glasgow hopefuls whilst providing a gauge of how the Scotland team stacked up against the rest of the Commonwealth.
The Team Scotland selection bar had been set at a top eight finish at the Commonwealth Championships. Scotland’s men finished with the Bronze medal, whilst the women came seventh. It was a reminder that on its day Scotland is more than capable of upsetting bigger nations. This April Scotland performed well in the Tokyo World Championships, finishing seventh out of all the Commonwealth countries.
“It is small margins that separate many of the top teams and last year’s Commonwealth Championships was a case of everything falling into place,” said Team Manager Euan Walker, who competed in the 2002 Manchester Games and produced the team’s best individual result, reaching the last 16 of the men’s singles. The Scotland team came ninth and finished in the same position in Delhi.
“And it was a case in point that we are in that clutch of teams that, if everything goes well and we play well, then we have a chance of winning some big matches and causing upsets. In that respect we go in to Glasgow confident whilst being realistic that we are not favourites. The Glasgow dimension adds another twist to it and I’ve certainly sensed a stepping up of the intensity of the preparations.”
Since Delhi 2010, Scotland’s elite squad has been working very closely with the sportscotland institute of sport. The sport has taken on Hungarian Marton Marsi as a full time head coach and created a base for its elite squad at the University of Edinburgh. Bringing together the Scottish based players on a regular basis has enabled the squad to train harder than ever before.
Walker added: “As a result I have noticed a big difference over the last couple of years in how the intensity levels and professionalism have improved amongst our players. There’s no magic formula about success in events. It’s about getting the right preparation, the right training, the right coaching and providing an environment for all the players to progress together.
“We have all that now and this gives us a blueprint for how we need to keep progressing and moving t
he sport forward. A successful Commonwealth Games in Glasgow will help us in our journey where our goal is to be regularly competing for medals on the Commonwealth stage.”
The Table Tennis competition takes place from 24 July to 2 August at Scotstoun Sports Campus, where up to 10 competition tables, including two main show courts, will see athletes contest Singles, Doubles and Mixed Doubles as well as dedicated Team events.
Making the announcement Team Scotland Chef de Mission, Jon Doig said: “I would like to welcome the Table Tennis players onto Team Scotland. It is fantastic to see a great mix of past Games competitors and emerging talent selected today. The players have highlighted their credentials at recent Commonwealth Championships and I wish them every success as they take to the tables at Scotstoun in front of a passionate home support.”
Cabinet Secretary for Commonwealth Games and Sport, Shona Robison said: “Congratulations to all the Table Tennis players who have joined Team Scotland today. The atmosphere at the Scotstoun Sports Campus will be incredible as our Team Scotland athletes take on top table tennis players from across the Commonwealth. The athletes, their coaches and support teams should be very proud. They will be part of the greatest Commonwealth Games ever and will have Scotland cheering them on and willing them to succeed.”
Louise Martin CBE, Chair of sportscotland, said: “I am delighted to see such a blend of youth and experience in the table tennis players selected for Team Scotland. Table tennis is a relatively new sport for the Games so those selected are among a relatively small band of players who will be able to say they’ve represented their country in the sport at the Games and they deserve congratulations for that.
“One of the main reasons we are able to prepare world-class athletes is because of the high performance support services provided by sportscotland. World-class experts, working with world-class athletes, give the country every reason to be excited about our prospects at what promises to be the best ever Games.”
SELECTED TABLE TENNIS ATHLETES
Niall Cameron Team Event
Sean Doherty Team Event
Craig Howieson Team Event, Men’s Doubles
Gavin Rumgay Team Event, Men’s Doubles
Gillian Edwards Team Event
Lynda Flaws Team Event
Corinna Whitaker Team Event
Photo credit: Alistair Devine