Stratford ping pong star calls for more cash after reaching world semi-finals

PUBLISHED: 16:04 30 January 2020 | UPDATED: 16:04 30 January 2020

Gavin Rumgay from Stratford

Gavin Rumgay from Stratford


Gavin Rumgay has called on Barry Hearn to raise the prize pot in next year’s BetVictor World Championship of Ping Pong, writes Ziad Chaudry.

Gavin Rumgay in actionGavin Rumgay in action

Since the event was moved from its humble beginnings at Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas, USA to its permanent residence of Alexandra Palace in 2013 the purse has stood at $100,000 with $20,000 to the winner.

But as it celebrates it's 10th anniversary in 2021, Stratford-based Ramgay, who reached the semi-finals last Sunday, believes it's time for the Matchroom Multi Sport paymaster to delve deep into his pockets and raise the bar in prize money.

"What I'm surprised about is the money still hasn't gone up," said the 35-year-old Scottish table tennis international.

"The tournament here needs to be for $500,000 and there needs to be another two or three tournaments. We've been saying that for years.

"Hopefully he (Hearn) now has the appetite to do that because he's such a great guy and always has time to speak to me at every tournament."

Dagenham-born Hearn exclusively revealed to Archant that he will not only increase the prize pot at next year's event but plans to stage a couple of new ping pong events later this year.

"I agree with him," the former Leyton Orient chairman said. "We build sustainable sports business, so it's easy for us to pay out more money, but if it's not sustainable it won't be an event.

"The event has grown to such a size that next year's prize money will be dramatically increased and hopefully with additional events from around the world, but it takes time to get there.

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"You can see by the crowds and TV interest we're getting there but we mustn't be complacent, we've still got a long way to go. But it's showing signs and as it shows signs therefore you could afford to.

"If you are running a proper business you can afford to pay more prize money and it does need more. More importantly the more prize money, it needs more events. This event should be drawn from the champions all around the world but that means other people have got to do localised events, so clearly that's where we've got to work.

"In the meantime because commercially it's becoming more successful the prize money will be substantially increased next year."

On the table Rumgay, in his best ever WCPP run to date, picked up $5000 for reaching the last four.

After victories over Mak King Ho, Aljay Villena, Tomas Sadilek, Bejamin Sorensen and Paul McCreery, he ran out of steam suffering a two-set defeat against in-form German Alexander Flamming, who eventually lost to now four-time WCPP winner Andrew Baggaley in the final.

"I didn't have enough in the tank," Rumgay admitted.

"Maybe here I wasn't thinking so clearly but it was a step up. When he was hitting some forehands you knew about it. It's a bit like the tennis and Roger Federer hitting the ball compared to the guys at 20th in the world, so there is a difference.

"When he hits that ball so hard it's not just for a corner it's also off an angle as well so you have to go even further round than you would against someone else.

"These guys specialise in the ping pong all the time. They've had matches abroad as well as in China. I haven't had that invite yet but hopefully I do now.

"It was the aim at the start of the tournament to get to the semis. It's a new experience and if I want to win the tournament I would've had to have won a few matches easier."

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