A team of five table tennis players will represent New Zealand in the highly strategic men’s team event at Glasgow 2014, the New Zealand Olympic Committee announced today.
Top men’s player Teng Teng Liu is the dominant player in a team that mixes youth and experience. At just 20 years old, Liu is also joined by three three-time Olympian and Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Peter Jackson (49) who will provide invaluable games-time knowledge.
Chinese-born Liu has lived in New Zealand since he was 16, but only this year become eligible for selection into a national team. He will take up the number one position in the team playing two singles matches in the Commonwealth competition.
Table Tennis New Zealand High Performance Director Murray Finch says the selection of team is significant for the sport in New Zealand and Liu’s inclusion is a major boost.
“We now have a player capable of winning two singles against all but the top three or four teams. In the past, without such a strong number one we have had to rely on everyone winning a match. Having Teng Teng increases the pressure on our opponents and gives us some tactical options in team selection.
“Selection for Glasgow is huge for men’s table tennis in New Zealand. It’s our pinnacle event.”
Shane Laugesen (39), who competed along-side Jackson at Commonwealth Games in both Manchester 2002 and Melbourne 2006 was also named to today. Jackson and Laugesen will form the strategic doubles combination which plays third in the five match team’s event.
First timers John Cordue (Christchurch, 30) and Phillip Xiao (23) of Auckland complete the team.
While Finch says the players are celebrating their selection, the job is only half done.
“The players, coaches and high performance team have delivered the result to earn selection for the team with very few resources. Everyone has needed to play their part for us to reach this stage and they have. but it’s not time to celebrate yet, the job is only half done and we must now deliver top performances at the games.”
With tough competition from Singapore, India, England, the New Zealand contingent will be relying on speed, agility and split-second reactions as well as a calm approach to the games environment to achieve a top six finish in the competition.
“Singapore will be raging hot favourites with several very highly rated players,” said Finch. “India and England will also be very strong and Nigeria is a regularly performs better than their ranking suggests they should. Outside the top three or four teams there are a lot of teams that will be closely matched. How they adapt to the conditions and the Olympic-style format will be a telling factor in who performs well.”
“Our first objective is to make the quarter-finals. Once we are there the draw will play a major role in our opportunities to advance we will have a good chance against most teams in the top eight.”
The team will gather in France, where both Jackson and Laugesen who play in professional leagues are based, prior to their arrival in Glasgow.
The Commonwealth Games teams’ event comprises four days of competition including two initial singles matches and followed by a doubles match and then additional singles if a clear winner has not emerged. The format allows the coach to decide which of his first two singles players will compete in the doubles with the 3rd player providing plenty of tactical options and interest.
This unique format is only played at Olympic, Commonwealth and World University Games.
The competition takes place 24 – 27 July.
New Zealand has won four Commonwealth Games medals, all at Manchester 2002 which was the first time the sport featured on the programme. Four-time Olympian Li Chunli contributed to each of the one gold, one silver and two bronze medals won English games she retired from the sport after the Athens Olympics in 2004 but has returned to competitive play in 2012 and heads a strong bid for Games selection by the women's team.
A women’s table tennis team may still be selected for Glasgow 2014.
New Zealand Men’s Table Tennis Team
The following players have been selected for the men’s table tennis team’s event at Glasgow 2014.
Teng Teng LIU, age 21, born Henan, China, residence Auckland
Peter Jackson, age 49, born Auckland, lives France - Sydney 2000, Barcelona 1992 and Seoul 1988, Manchester 2002 (bronze mixed doubles, with Li Chunli), Melbourne 2006
Shane Laugesen age 39, born Lower Hutt, originally, lives in France, Manchester 2002, Melbourne 2006
John Cordue age 30, born Wellington, lives Christchurch
Phillip Xiao 23, born and resides in Auckland
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