The staging of the table tennis competition at the Pacific Mini Games in Rarotonga is the culmination of development work carried out in the region over a decade.
Tournament referee David Delpratt says the International Table Tennis Federation has poured money into countries since the late 1990s, and through Australian Glenn Tepper, sent development officers into the region to help start up, or consolidate the sport.
Delpratt says it is only the second time that table tennis has been held at a mini games.
He says 69 players from 10 countries are in Rarotonga for the tournament, and he is impressed with the Aroa Nui facility.
“It’s a good venue, compact. It’s manageable with four tables and fits in nicely with the programme.”
Delpratt says tournaments are held in venues with a wooden inner-sprung floor but no one has complained about playing on the concrete floor.
Last week Fiji won the men’s team event over Tahiti-Nui 5-1 to win gold.
The team was spearheaded by Wang Qi and Richel Sen who went through unbeaten in the team’s event.
However, the tables were turned on Fiji in the women’s event, with Vanuatu, led by Priscila Tommy, winning 5-0. Vanuatu has dominated women’s table tennis in the region since 2003, winning gold at the Fiji and Samoan Pacific Games, and in Palau in 2005.
Delpratt says last week’s bronze medal playoffs were just as exciting with New Caledonia winning the men’s division against Vanuatu, and Tahiti Nui beating Kiribati in the women’s – both matches being decided in the last contest. It was a brave effort for Kiribati which could not field a full team.
Play got underway yesterday in the men’s and women’s singles, with the finals to be played on Wednesday.
Today the mixed doubles will be played with the Vanuatu pairing of Anolyn Lulu and Yoshua Shing topping the rankings.
Games will start at 9 o’clock this morning.
The Oceania development officer Scott Houston, and ITTF delegate Graeme Ireland (tournament controller) are also in Rarotonga assisting with the competition. - Moana Moeka’a: Cook Islands News
Last Modified on 30/09/2009 16:02