Colchester physio ensured table tennis players were in good hands

THEY may have failed to win singles places for this summer’s Olympics in London, but at least Great Britain’s table tennis hopefuls were in good hands when they jetted out to a qualifying event in Qatar, recently.

The ten shortlisted players for the Games will now have to wait for the host allocation announcement, due to be made today by the British Table Tennis Federation and the British Olympic Authority, with only one man and one woman able to now be chosen.

But the likes of Paul Drinkhall, Liam Pitchford and Naomi Owen were given the best possible chance by physiotherapist Craig Fowlie who kept them at the top of their game in Doha.

As part of his job, New Zealand-born Fowlie works for the Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme, which provides GB athletes with financial assistance, and also supported the team at the recent World Team Championships.

“The pressure was on,” said Fowlie.

“You are having to make calls, with regards to the athletes’ fitness when Olympic places are at stake.

“It was a different pressure to what I am used to working with people in the practice.

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“Between them, the players probably played about 48 games, each lasting around 45 minutes, so I was involved a lot in their maintenance, giving them massages and ensuring they remained flexible and mobilised for the next games.”

None of the players who jetted out to the Middle East thankfully suffered any serious injuries that would have hampered their progress but Fowlie revealed the risks involved in playing such a high-intensity sport.

“People tend to think the players suffer a lot of arm and elbow injuries but a lot of their problems come in their legs,” said Fowlie.

“The players are predominantly in a squatting position, in what is a very explosive sport, so the legs get tired.

“The shoulders can also suffer, playing top-spin because they have to put a lot of slice on the ball.”

The majority of the players will now have to go back to the drawing board with only two singles places remaining.

GB will be represented in the team event in London, having been handed a wildcard for being the host nation.

However, Fowlie is doubtful he will be part of the GB Olympic set-up.

“Because of the wildcard, Britain are likely to be meet one of the top seeds, so it will be pretty hard for them to get through,” said Fowlie.

“Had there been bigger representation in the singles’ event then it may have been more likely, but I get the call, I will be happy to go there.”

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