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  • 09Dec

    The day is about to dawn; after months, days and hours of preparation the 2009 Volkswagen World Junior Championships are about to happen; the preparation is not limited only to the efforts of the untiring organisers but also to the dedicated players and coaches.

    Preparation, that is the key on Tuesday 8th December 2009, the day prior to the curtain rising in what is a quite unique venue; the home, as near as the English language permits, is the Exhibition Centre strategically situation at the base of the harbour.

    A quiet practice session for Wu Yang, who leads the Chinese challenge in the Girls’ Team event  Photo By: ITTF Asia / Pacific Office

    It’s not the first time that I’ve witnessed table tennis in these premises, I was here in early 2006 for the Central American and Caribbean Championships; my memory is of a very enjoyable and hard fought tournament.

    Extra Motivation
    Similar to 2006, the coaches prepare their players and perhaps they could add an extra ingredient of motivation - fear!

    Pirates were no strangers to Cartagena in the 16th century and one of their punishments was to “walk the plank”; blindfold, keep walking and you finished in the sea.

    Now could that be a motivating factor for some young players attending the Volkswagen World Junior Championships in Cartagena? Win or into the harbour and “walk the plank”!

    If you play badly make sure you can swim!

    Now has a table tennis player ever “walked the plank”?

    The answer is in the affirmative.

    In the early 1970s prior to the English National Championships being held at the Crystal Palace centre in south London, where adjacent to the hall for the table tennis event there was an Olympic size swimming pool and high diving board, England’s Denis Neale made a statement prior to the tournament that attracted the headlines.

    Never a man to mince his words, Denis vowed that if he lost to Chester Barnes, he would jump off the top diving board in the aquatic centre.

    True to his word, Denis jumped!

    Now, England’s coach, Linus Mernsten, might be searching for a plank should one of his quartet cause him heartaches. In recent years Denis Neale has been helping England team member Gavin Evans.

    So, Mr Evans, you know where you might finish is your performance is not up to scratch!

    Now which team has the least chance of swimming home?

    I watch the young players practise; what do I see?

    A great deal of effort, comparatively long strokes from many quarters with power being the key, exuberant strokes; it’s exciting it’s good to watch.

    On virtually every table I see biff, bang, crash, bang, wallop; no complaints but then there are two tables who are practising differently.

    Short, Short
    It’s a short service, it is close to the net controlled touch play, then a forehand flick to open proceedings; the importance of service, return of service, control are in evidence, whilst all others in the hall are in topspin mode.

    The country in question is the country that is the best on the world on the first three strokes in the rally; the country in question is China.

    Two Factors
    Now I look again into Cartagena Harbour, two factors strike me.

    None of these players will be visiting Davy Jones’ Locker and most certainly none will be booked home on a “Slow Boat the China”.

    Source: ittf.com

    Posted by ttfan @ 10:36 pm

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