In November Eaglehawk’s modern, high quality table tennis stadium was host to the ITTF Oceania 2018 Buenos Aires Youth Olympic qualifying games.
The competitors were 14-18 years old – competing from up to seven countries, including Papua New Guinea, Fiji, New Zealand (and of course the Australians which included one Victorian and three Queensland youths).
The New Zealand team arrived on Thursday Nov 9. Competition began on Sat 11 Nov. Teams are given equal practicing time starting at 12pm the day before the tournament. Teams like to have a turn on centre-court to prepare for finals.
The set up for the tournament included four competition tables, with one centre-court table which had a live stream of every game broadcast on the international table tennis website. Two umpires adjudicated on centre-court and one on others. Bendigo Table Tennis Club own 57 tables but they were given four international tournament standard new ones for this competition.
Everyone competing in tournament stayed in Eaglehawk for the weekend, which boosted the economy greatly.
Two New Zealanders won the tournament and are to the Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires.
Bendigo Table Tennis Club has 180 members and plays or trains 4 days and nights a week. Overseas they train a whole lot more for high-level competition, up to six days a week, twice a day.
Gary Warnest has been president of the club for 19 years and playing table tennis for about 55 years. He’s lived in Eaglehawk since the 1970s.
Gary described the club as a medium sized club but said, “they punch well above their weight” by hosting word class tournaments which have been praised by international organisations. In 2013, they were judged as hosting the best continental tournament in the world and in 2014 they were the first in the world to host a tournament where para-athletes and able-bodied competitors were on court competing at the same time.
2018 will be an even bigger year for the club. with Gary and Jock McNeil off to umpire at the Commonwealth Games and Bendigo hosting two international tournaments which are so large they need to be held at Bendigo Stadium and Ulumbarra Theatre.
Tournament photos courtesy of ITTF.