Two young Furness table tennis stars grabbed the chance to play for England with vigour at the Schools International 2010.
Former Dowdales pupil Scott Crawford and current pupil Emily Bolton showed their worth at the event in Limerick, Ireland.
Taking on teams from the rest of the UK and Ireland, Scott came away with a gold medal from the team event and a bronze in the singles at under-18s level.
Emily, meanwhile, was playing her first international tournament at the age of 12, coming up against opponents up to two years her senior in the under-14s event.
She also came home with a medal, taking a bronze in the team event, having been eliminated from the individual competition at the quarter-final stage.
Playing at the National Arena, at the University of Limerick, Crawford teamed up to great effect with fellow Bristol Academy of Sport student Tom Maynard in the team event to make up England A.
The format of the competition saw both team members play singles matches and then team up for a doubles contest.
They came through a tough final against favourites and hosts Ireland 3-1 to claim the crown.
In the individuals, Scott won bronze, losing in the semi-finals to eventual winner Paul McCreery, from Ireland.
Dad Duncan, a coach at the Barrow Table Tennis Centre, where both Scott and Emily have honed their skills, said: “It’s fantastic. The whole family went to watch and it was a really fantastic weekend.
“They played really well together in the doubles, they beat Ireland 3-1 together, which was a good result.
“It’s another gold medal for Barrow, and isn’t that fantastic?”
Emily came up against players from Scotland, Ireland, Wales, the Isle of Man and Jersey in the team competition.
Her team were knocked out in the semi-finals to earn her a bronze medal, while she reached the last-eight of the individual event.
On Emily, Duncan said: “She played under-14s and she’s only 12.
“Every player at that tournament will have been ranked above, so for her to be picked is great.
“We are all chuffed to bits that she was selected to take part and she will certainly go on to play for England again. With the right guidance she will definitely keep performing at this level.”
Last year’s Barrow Junior Sportsperson of the Year Emily – who is coached by former Parkview pupil Tristran Swan at Barrow Table Tennis Centre, as well as ex-England coach Denis Neale – has also been selected to play for the North West of England in the UK School Games in Sunderland at the start of September.
She impressed while playing in the National Championships in Doncaster in the under-12s, under-13s and under-14s events, and has had trials to represent England in the Euro Mini Championship later this year in France.
As of yet the team has not been selected.
The talented 18-year-old has been picked in the England Schools Under-18s team for the Schools International 2010 tournament in Ireland.
He will take on players from teams from across the UK in the event, held at the Irish National Arena, in Limerick, between June 25 and 27.
The selection means Scott becomes the third of the Crawford siblings to be selected to represent England at table tennis, with elder brother Jonathan playing for them at under-16s level and sister Helen at under-14s.
Proud dad Duncan, himself a coach at the Barrow Table Tennis Centre and manager of the Barrow team – including Scott – that recently won promotion to the British League Premier Division, said it was a great feat for his youngest son to be selected.
“We are as proud as punch,” he said. “I’m sure when people who know Scott from the table tennis centre in Barrow, find out, they will be proud as well. All three of them have played for England now – I’ve got the hat-trick now and I can down tools!
“Scott really deserves this. He’s the youngest of the three and he is fighting all the time to keep up with numbers one and two. He thinks number one and two get a better deal all the time – and they don’t – and he has fought all the time.
“I’m sure he will overtake Jonathan. He hasn’t at the moment, Jonathan is in the top 50 in the country, but Scott Crawford will carry on improving and getting better.”
To progress his game, former Dowdales pupil Scott Crawford lives with brother Jonathan in Bristol, where he is studying for his A-Levels at the Bristol Academy of Sport at Filton College. The college is a renowned hotbed for table tennis talent, with those admitted having to be in the top 30 in their age group.
He trains twice a day at the college, as well as working in the gym, and Scott has benefited from playing alongside Croatian number two Jakov Krivić – also a part of the promotion-winning Barrow team – who has been brought in as a practice partner.
“He’s practising with him and Jakov has brought Scott’s game on by a mile,” added dad Duncan.
As well as playing for Barrow, Scott also turns out for Filton in the Bristol League and was part of their side which has won the English Schools title for the last two years.
His recent performances have seen him beat England senior number 12 player Will Maybanks – a professional in Hungary – and take a game off Great Britain number one Gavin Rumgay at the Wolverhampton Grand Prix, who went on to win the tournament overall.
These achievements have seen him ranked 89th in the senior rankings, while he is 15th in the under-18s – a standing which would be higher had he played more under-18s tournaments rather than senior competitions. Straight after the tournament in Ireland, Scott will head to Croatia with the rest of the Barrow team – hopefully including new recruit Rumgay – to train with Krivic in preparation for their outings in the British Premier League.
Duncan added: “If he gets in the top 20 players, he will probably look at a semi-professional career with a team abroad on a small salary.”