Table tennis loses appeal
Saturday 5th January 2013, 2:30PM GMT.
HOW things have changed in island sport since the millennium.
Most of it has been for the better and on that plus-list is the selection process for Guernsey teams attending the Commonwealth Games,
A decade ago when I sat down with others to choose a team to go to Manchester for the 2002 Games, the whole process was so antiquated and amateurish that ‘athletes’ were arguing their eligibility on the grounds that they should go because they could simply get the time off.
It did not seem to matter to the individual or sport concerned, that there were more qualified players who were unable or unwilling to go and that selecting ‘also-rans’ was OK. Well, in our eyes, it wasn’t and they didn’t go.
Since then, and praise to the modern Guernsey Commonwealth Games Association for forcing it through, athletes will go only if they meet an agreed criteria.
It worked fairly OK for Delhi, but the process still allowed for some duff and embarrassing performances from out-of-their-depth selections, but 18 months before the 2014 Commonwealths in Glasgow the selection method has been further tightened and, as a result, the first appeal against the validators’ verdict has been staged.
It resulted in a comprehensive win for the validators over the sport – table tennis – but rather than throw their toys out of the pram and moan about it all, it’s refreshing to hear that the sport has now recognised they were wrong. Way out, in fact.
They often say it takes a man to say sorry and Derek Webb, president of the GTTA, deserved much credit, for admitting his sport got it wrong.
He was, as is his nature, thinking only about providing opportunities.
But, he now knows he was wrong and the Commonwealths is not and should never be again, seen as one small step up from the Island Games. It is one big step.
Webb says he came away from the appeal, heard by the GCGA appeals committee trio of Sir Geoffrey Rowland, Simon Geall and Graham Chester, ‘with a lot of positives’.
Privately, the effervescent GTTA leader, knows he got a hiding behind closed doors and he was happy to admit it.
‘Our case was weak and we had no answer to some of the questions we were asked,’ he said.
‘In hindsight, maybe we should have done more homework. We were made aware of what some other sports criteria was, and ours is nowhere near as onerous as some others.
‘I have no complaints whatsoever with the decision.’
The crux of the initial differing of opinion lay with the GTTA’s wish to be able to pick anyone who had made the necessary commitment to attending national and international events, and was ranked within its own top six, male and female.
For Delhi it had been the top five.
The validators wanted six to read four, GTTA then asked for the status quo to be retained and the appeals committee backed the validators.
‘There are no negatives from me, only positives,’ said Webb, whose trademark honesty and cheerful nature has shone through the process.
If it means table tennis find they are unable to select men’s and women’s teams for Glasgow and go only with players such as Garry Dodd and Alice Loveridge for the individuals, the GTTA should see it as a challenge to do better for Gold Coast in 2018 and not as a damaging exercise.
There is certainly the raw talent within table tennis to field two full teams, but whether sufficient emerging players have the ambition to make the most of their skills is yet to be seen.
Via their validators – Mike Webber (chairman), Roy Martel, Helen Bailey, Peter Dean and Jay Ap Sion – the GCGA were dead right to put their foot down. The Games should not be a cheap ride for anyone any longer.
FOOTBALL fans locally should have been cheered to see Roy Trustum short-listed for the Specsavers Unsung Hero award this week.
While it is not for his voluntary work in sport that Roy has been chosen among five to contest the prize, it should never be forgotten just how much time, effort and dedication this former referee and vice-president of the Guernsey Football Association has given football.
But what delights Inside Track, more than anything, is that while many football people still bury their heads in the sand and yearn for a sport without GFC, a man from the old school, like Roy, will be at every Green Lions home match, showing people to their seats and helping out as a cheerful steward at the age of 81.
Roy has been a terrific servant to football as well as the general community.
YOU have to hand it to the Guernsey Football Club. Their cunning plan – sadly thwarted – to play an away game at home, the other side of an expensive expanse of water, was a touch of impressive ingenuity, as well as cracking opportunism.
GFC would have won on on several fronts: 1, they get to give its home support some action after a weather-enforced quiet period; 2, they increase their chances of winning three more vital points; and 3, Colliers Wood United, who have temporarily lost the use of their ground, would have won in the pocket and earned far more from the gate, than if it had been played at home or Cobham.
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