Two University of Nottingham table tennis players have been selected to represent Team England at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games. UoN Table Tennis Head Coach Kelly Sibley and Geography student Maria Tsaptsinos have both made the squad which will travel to Australia for the games in April, which are set to be the largest sporting event the country will hold this decade. Amongst 6,600 athletes and team officials from 70 nations, both Sibley and Tsaptsinos will be fighting to claim medals for their nation.
For Kelly Sibley this will be her fourth Commonwealth games, having collected a bronze medal in the doubles with Daniel Reed in Glasgow 2014. Sibley’s experience could be vital in driving for the latter stages of the competition, having lost agonisingly in the singles in 2010 to Malaysia, something which Sibley described as “one of the worst feelings I’ve ever had” in missing out on a podium place. However, she did use this to “spur” herself on for her bronze medal in the mixed doubles in Glasgow. Without a doubt, she will be desperate to change the colour of her next medal, hopefully adding gold to her name.
“We are ready to fight and wear the shirt with pride”
The current U21 champion Maria Tsaptsinos was thrilled on hearing of her selection: “I’m really excited to compete in my first Commonwealth Games and to experience the build-up of the whole games will be amazing”. Her selection has come about from a series of top class performances, winning the Women’s doubles title at the English Championships in 2017 alongside claiming two Golds in the BUCS Table Tennis individuals for 2017/2018. Despite her lack of international experience, Maria is determined to highlight herself on the Commonwealth stage, adding “We are ready to fight and wear the shirt with pride to get as many medals as we can”. This fighting spirit from the final-year Geography student will hopefully help her to carry on her impressive form at the games and do her country proud.
The University of Nottingham’s Performance Table Tennis Team has continued to grow in strength under Kelly Sibley’s stewardship, shown through the achievements in the spectacular 2016/2017 season in which the Nottingham secured 4 out of 5 Golds in BUCS Individuals and 4 Golds (Men’s and Women’s Trophy and Championship) in the team event. Similarly, the 2017/2018 team won four out of five Golds at individuals again and look set to make all four Championship finals at BUCS Big Wednesday, held at the University of Nottingham’s David Ross Sports Centre on March 21st, 2018.
Delighted to announce that I will be heading to the Gold Coast, Australia, for the commonwealth games April 2018! pic.twitter.com/MKm0uR30HL
— Maria Tsaptsinos (@MariaTsaptsinos) February 7, 2018
Kelly and Maria will have the opportunity to further the proud history that the University of Nottingham holds at the Commonwealths, including Gold for alumni Alex Perry (UoN Sport, Assistant Director of Performance) and Silver for former England No. 1 Nicole Deaton (UoN Graduate, Psychology) as well as the bronze Sibley gained with Danny Reed (UoN MSc, Brain Imaging) at Glasgow. The England squad achieved five medals for Table Tennis at Glasgow, including gold, two silvers and two bronze medals, coming second in the sport only to Singapore who gained ten medals. The England squad gained all three medals in the Mixed doubles, a success which Sibley was included in with her bronze medal, and hopefully will push for similar success in Australia. However, the team weren’t so successful in the singles, only gaining a bronze in the men’s and no podium finish in the women’s. An improvement to the singles could boost the medal tally considerably, with high hopes surrounding the young Maria Tsaptsinos.
“We wish the girls the best of luck for the competition”
As part of their preparation for GC2018, both Kelly and Maria have been selected as part of the England Women’s team for the World Team Cup at the Copper Box in London 22 – 25 February 2018. Maria added the benefits of this tournament, stating that “The team have a lot of preparation coming up including the World Team Cup in London which will be brilliant, and a great way to try and achieve the best we can do while out there (in Australia)”. Team England will be challenging for nine medals across Table Tennis and Para-Table Tennis at Oxenford Studios during the Commonwealth Games, we wish the girls the best of luck for the competition.
Featured image courtesy of UoN Sport
For more info on the Green and Gold’s Table Tennis setup, check out their website.