Table tennis: interview with Gavin Rumgay

Gavin Rumgay is Scotland's number one table tennis player.

Loading Comments
Share
Print
Gavin Rumgay
Gavin Rumgay

With nine national titles and a Commonwealth medal to his name, he remains one Scotland's most prominent and successful table tennis players ever. In the lead up to the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, he reflected on his personal ambitions, the competitiveness of the sport and Team Scotland's medal chances at the Commonwealth Games.

What does a typical day of a professional table tennis player involve?

Four hours on the table practice - two hours in the morning and two hours in the afternoon. Then on top of that you could have a gym session of 45 minutes to an hour. For me, I've got my own racket sports company and I coach table tennis, tennis and badminton up to national level so I have to fit that in as well. To be training six or seven hours a day when you're 16 or 17 years old is no problem but when you get into your late 20s, it's difficult. You have to try and stagger things a little bit and train a bit more cleverly.

What are Team Scotland's medal chances at Glasgow 2014?

I don't know about a medal but I suppose the team are probably going to do quite well and get into the top eight. That seems to be the ambition anyway. Obviously it is good teams that we're up against, Singapore being very very strong. The quarter final would be where we want to be.

Why is it difficult for Scottish table tennis players in particular to gain recognition?

There's not enough shown on the TV. Surely snooker and darts aren't better sports than table tennis but because they're on people will watch them. I know in London and back home in Pert, pubs would be crammed out with groups of people watching table tennis. They'll have a beer and just watch whatever sport they're used to watching. If table tennis is not on the TV enough then they won't be interested in it. That's all it is.

What is your favourite aspect of playing table tennis professionally?

For me, money wise it's great! But I didn't believe the standard [of play] was strong enough in Scotland for me to stay there. You get much better practice down here but obviously it's got to start somewhere. There's no point in me hanging around in Scotland playing against players that aren't as good.

So what is it going to take for a Scottish table tennis player to be placed at the top of the league?

The simple thing to do would be to move to China if there was that option. Set up camp in Shanghai and go from there. But again, I'm making the best I can in Britain by moving to London.

Now, obviously you're Scotland's number 1 player and have achieved great success within table tennis but where do you see yourself progressing career wise?

Progressing to the top 200 in the world. I'm just outside that at the moment. That's always been a long term goal. There's only been one or two Scottish players in the last few years who have got a top 200 ranking. I'm looking to get 12 national titles to equal the record. I've already got a Commonwealth medal so 12 Scottish titles plus a Commonwealth medal would mean I'm Scotland's best ever player. You get older and younger kids are coming through but I'm still the one to beat so there's no reason at the moment to think negatively. You just get out there and keep practising.

You've actually been placed within a Scottish legend category on a few websites. How does that feel?

I think I'm definitely the only legend that's still playing so that's good. It's nice to be named a so called legend of the Scottish game when I feel I'm still one or two years away from being at my peak.

What advice would you give to up and coming table tennis players?

To practise at least three or four times a week against players that are better than them. When I was younger, I was able to get into the system of practising with 18 year old guys when I was 12. You need to play against players that are better than you when you're young.

Do you agree that table tennis is less challenging and demanding than other sports?

That's what a lot of people think until they turn up to the sports centres that I train in. I've been an international level player in badminton and tennis up to age of 15. I know that table tennis is just as hard as those sports. If you're on a tennis court for three or four hours it can be quite tough but the actual training of tennis is not any harder than table tennis. You look in an average sports centre and watch someone poking a table tennis ball over the net and it just looks terrible because they're not playing properly. But the professional players hit very very fast... it's tough and that's why you need to train outside the table tennis court too. I'll do an exercise where I have 200 balls in a row fired at me from my coach. It's very difficult. A lot of the professional table tennis players can't comment because they've not played other sports at a high level so they don't know.

Again, with tennis you pay £60 to £80 an hour for a coach. It's too much money. That's why I would always recommend to a lot of the working class folk in Scotland to pick up table tennis because unless you are an exceptional player and have an upper class family you won't progress in tennis.

How important is Glasgow 2014 to Glasgow and do you believe the Games could encourage a new generation of table tennis players?

They're important to Glasgow because I think a lot of people view Glasgow as not a nice a city as Edinburgh. Hopefully if things are in place and the place is looking accessible with all these new sports centres and facilities, it will look really really good if people want to come up and visit Scotland.

It will [encourage players] if people continue to be interested by it. I think there's quite a few thousand people who will be in watching the Commonwealth Games anyway so that'll be an eye-opener to some people. But again, you don't have to be getting loads and loads playing at a professional level. What's important is that we get people out in sports centres playing and enjoying table tennis. Not everyone can be a fantastic player so I think that is what is important in any sport.

Further information about Gavin's additional projects including his racket sports company, GR racket sports, is available through his official website - http://gavinrumgay.webs.com/

Commenting & Moderation

We moderate all comments on Evening Times on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis. If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules

Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.

165073