This morning (11th August, 2010), BBC Radio Cumbria reporter Megan Paterson visited the Barrow Table Tennis Centre to discuss Barrow’s big summer signings on the breakfast show.
At 20 years of age, Paul is regarded around the World as one of the game’s future stars and is listed as one of the Telegraphs “Ten to Watch for London 2012”. During Paul’s relatively short career, he has won 3 European Junior Gold Medals, 33 National titles and has been runner-up in the BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year twice. More recently, Paul won the Under-21 China Open which is an amazing feat considering the stronghold China has on table tennis.
On the signing, Barrow Table Tennis Manager Tristran Swan said in disbelief, “Who would have believed that someone of Paul Drinkhall’s calibre would be playing for Barrow Table Tennis Club? To have the England Number 1 playing alongside the Scottish Number 1 (Gavin Rumgay) and England Number 3 (Darius Knight) just beggars belief. I mean, to put this into perspective, on paper, this makes Barrow better than the England team!”
Tristran went on to say, “I really can’t see Paul losing any games. The hard part will be getting him to the venue, but that is also true of Gavin and Darius. These guys are professional players with tight schedules as they train and play all around the world and we have to work around that. For example, the first British League weekend clashes with the final rounds of the European Championships in Ostrava (Czech Republic). We have flights booked in case these guys don’t get that far (to the quarter-finals) in the competition so they can play for us. Obviously we can’t bank on them being there, so we have a squad of players that will also be making the journey, making them as valuable as the star players. Saying that, within the team these guys aren’t seen as stars; we’re all very close.”
Prior to leaving England for this year’s China Open, Paul said “I do believe Barrow can win the league. First reason being the standard of the players in the team: from the top of the team to the bottom of the team [it’s] strong, which is important, and also we have international experience which should favour us in the close matches.”
But it’s not all about winning for Paul: “the Team are all friends and I think it will be a great atmosphere, therefore the weekends away will be fun and that is very important.”
You can find out more about Paul Drinkhall on his player profile – Paul Drinkhall’s Player Profile.
Darius, who at 20 is the current England Number 3 (based on ITTF World Rankings), had signed to play for Barrow TTC last season (2009/2010). However, much to his frustration, playing commitments and contracts abroad meant that he was unable to play – leaving him feeling he had let the team down. Thankfully, Darius has remained loyal to the Club and this season it is going to be a very different story.
On the signing of the England International and London 2012 Olympic hopeful, Barrow Team Manager Tristran Swan beamed, “the signing of Darius is tremendous news. He is the face England table tennis.”
Tristran went on to talk about the public’s perception of Darius: “Darius receives an unfair amount of criticism in my view. People believe his disadvantaged background and the press attention he receives gives him an unfair advantage when it comes to the England squad selection.”
“Darius is returning to the British League to play for Barrow TTC and in doing so he has the perfect platform to show the British Table Tennis public what he is about. He will be wanting to prove a point and I’d be very surprised if he didn’t win a 100% of his matches.”
Tristran went further, explaining what other benefits the signing will bring to Barrow TTC: “Darius is a self-styled table tennis role model. He is the urban face of Fred Perry and the figurehead of the hugely successful Fred Perry Urban Cup which promotes Table Tennis in inner cities. Darius is at his best connecting with kids, he understands them and makes table tennis fun and accessible.”
“Darius has said he will come up to Barrow, meet the kids and coach them. He is brilliant at this kind of thing, and the motivation kids get from meeting someone like Darius can’t be underestimated. I still remember the time I met and played with England table tennis legend Des Douglas.”.
Prior to leaving England for the China Open, Darius said with confidence and enthusiasm, “We’re going take the title! We’ve got a strong team of World class players and great National players, so why not?”.
When asked why he is making his return to the British League with Barrow, Darius said, “Jonny (Crawford) is my dad, he knows a lot and I’m very close to the Barrow boys. It’s important to play with people you get on with, especially the boss Dunx (Duncan Crawford, Assistant Team Manager)”.
You can find out more about Darius Knight on his player profile – Darius Knight’s Player Profile.
Gavin Rumgay, the 3 times Scottish National Champion, helped Barrow get to the British League Play-Offs during the 2008/2009 season. Had Gavin been present for the Play-Offs, he was representing Scotland at the Commonwealth Table Championships in Glasgow, it is likely Barrow I would have been promoted that season.
In the 2009/2010 season, with the promise of British League Premiership table tennis, the entertaining Scot signed for Sycamore. Playing in the number 1 position, Gavin only lost one match during the whole season which goes to show what an important acquisition he is for Barrow.
On the signing of four times Men’s Open Grand Prix Champion Gavin Rumgay, Barrow Team Manager Tristran Swan said, “Gavin always said he’d come back to us if we won promotion and for him to do so shows his commitment to the Club”. Talking about Gavin, Tristran went on to say, “Gavin exemplifies everything Barrow stands for. He always gives a 110% and must be the hardest working player in Britain. What is more, he is an exciting and entertaining player. I very much see Gavin as been a Captain figure, someone who will lead by example”.
Looking forward to the season ahead Gavin said, “We (Barrow I) have a great chance to be winners or runners-up in the British League Premier Division. We (Barrow I) have the strongest team, the most entertaining and one of the fastest improving sides in World table tennis, which all bode well for big success in 2010/2011 season”. Gavin went on to pledge, “I will give my absolute best on the table and on the bench for this great team… Possibly some funny moments and entertainment”.
You can find out more about Gavin Rumgay on his player profile – Gavin Rumgay’s Player Profile.