22 hours coached in 2 days, was it worth it? My answer is, absolutely! The team produced there best when it mattered the most, winning 10 medals over the course of the weekend.
Play started early on Saturday morning with many of our 3rd and 4th team playing the group stages. After some nail biting table tennis many progressed through to the first round, which meant they would be back with the cream of the crop on Sunday. The smiles on many faces were an amazing thing to see. For me this was great, not only are our first team performing, our lower teams are pulling their weight…. hard work really does pay off! As the day went on, a sense of suspense was starting to gloom over the hall as some of the universities first teams came in. You could see the crowd compelled to the actions of some players completely in awe. They came to warm up for their doubles matches and not least to see out there fairly unchallenging singles groups. The day came to an end with most of our players into the Sunday draw.
I arrived at the hall at about 8:30am full of beans and ready to help our players to victory. Round after round some of our players started to drop, however we still had numerous exciting matches to come. As the ¼ finals and ½ finals started to get near, the crowd was filling up, some of the universities staffing team were in the audience, with the director of sport looking proudly as his team got into action. In the late stages of the competition the games were so close some going down to the very last set, however more often and not we emerged victorious in true GREEN AND GOLD STYLE! The highlight for me was simply, on every table we had our colours competing. As the day came to a close we didn’t quite manage to bring home gold in the individuals we had to settle for silver, although losing to some very reputable players.
OK So what makes the University of Nottingham so great to work for? The structure, consistency and quality of the Table Tennis training at the UoN is simply second to none. High level practice partners, world class coaches and some great players all managed by Nicola Perry, in my eyes is very hard to beat….dare I say impossible. The university has strong links with China and are looking to develop all the time. As a player or a coach working there you cannot stand still. You must continue to develop to keep your place in the team. Academically you must be at a certain grade to be offered a place, so hard work is very much a clear trend and a thing of habit. There is a clear correlation of high level athletes coming through year after year all academic, this for me is a message to anyone “striving for greatness” if you can commit to your studies with a mature outlook on development, this is a transferable skill easily emulated in sport.
Well done to all players and coaches involved, let’s do the same next year… JUST BETTER!