Flying the flag: Scotland's greatest table tennis success stories

Scotland has produced some great professional table tennis players in the past.

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Although the list is by no means extensive, throughout history there have been some highly regarded Scottish players who went against all likelihoods and excelled in the sport.

Helen Elliot Hamilton is the perfect example of Scottish success in table tennis. She remains Scotland's most prominent table tennis champion. Her career boasted 13 consecutive Scottish national singles titles as well as numerous accolades at international level including World Doubles Championships and International Open singles championships.

In 1949, Helen significantly became the first Scot to win a world title. Born in Edinburgh, Helen had only been playing the sport for three years when she earned her first singles title at the Scottish open championships.

Her career undoubtedly promoted the potential of Scottish table tennis, casting a shadow of doubt on those who claim that table tennis is not a sport for Scots.

Despite Helen's passing in January 2013, her legacy and achievement inevitably continues to inspire up and coming table tennis players to strive for a similar calibre of career.

Richard Yule's career in table tennis was perhaps foreshadowed many years before his time in the spotlight as he worked for a manufacturer of table tennis bats in the 1970s.

Richard competed at the Commonwealth championships in Cardiff, claiming a bronze medal victory. In 1974, he represented Scotland and won the team event category at the Spanish Open, going on to win the men's singles and mixed doubles.

However, the most rare aspect of Richard's career was his treble win of the French national, English national and Scottish national leagues. When Richard eventually retired from national table tennis in 1985, he left the sport with an incredible series of titles including six World championships, seven European championships and six Commonwealths.

He was commended in 1989 for his services to Scottish table tennis in raising its global profile by receiving the prestigious Harry Baxter award. Richard still remained an active part of the table tennis scene in the years following his retirement through serving as Chief Executive of the English Table Tennis association.

Helen and Richard are both exceptional illustrations of the fact that Scottish table tennis does have the possibility to thrive. There is space for a new ambassador to propel the fate of table tennis into being a game of greater scale and influence throughout Scotland. Perhaps the perception of the sport within society has to be shifted before any major progress can be made internationally. Do enough Scots believe table tennis is a credible sport within Scotland? Or is it just more convenient to confine its fate to a recreational level?

Above all, one notion is certain: Scottish table tennis has the ability to replicate the promising talent displayed by previous generations and challenge the world's competitors. There is a clear future in the sport for Scots athletes to succeed once the common fear of Malaysian and Chinese dominance is undermined. History has proven that when true commitment and passion is exercised, Scottish table tennis can surpass all expectations.

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