Stratford’s hard-hitter backs ambitious plans to spice up ping pong

PUBLISHED: 17:00 11 January 2013 | UPDATED: 07:35 09 January 2014

British number three Gavin Rumgay believes Barry Hearn is the man who can add the x-factor to ping pong as the Matchroom Sport supremo aims to spice up the game.

The World Championships of Ping Pong were staged at Alexandra Palace last weekend, as the classic sandpaper hard-bats made a re-appearance to the 21st-century stage, in an effort to see the sport follow the transition taken by darts and increase in popularity.

The Stratford-based Scot is in favour of Hearn’s ambitious plans to revamp the hard-bat version of table tennis.

And Rumgay feels increased player-crowd interaction will make the sport more appealing to the masses.

“Next time I hope the crowd will double, but that was good,” said Rumgay, who was eliminated in the last-16.

“It was a first shot for Barry Hearn at table tennis and I’m sure he’ll tweak things when this happens again and it will for sure.

“I definitely want to play in more of these tournaments, I can get used to this type of atmosphere.”

Rumgay, who went in to the prestigious Wood Green venue on the back of five domestic tournament victories, defeated world hard-bat champion Kazeem Adeleke, from Nigeria, German Jurgen Leu and Ireland’s Colum Slevin, before ending his gallant run in the televised last-16 stage to eventual finalist Sule Olaleye, from Nigeria.

And the 28-year-old was surprised with his performance in the event won by Russia’s Maxim Shmyrev, who scooped £12,000 in prize money.

“I definitely over-achieved by reaching the last-16,” added Rumgay.

“Winning £1,200 was not bad for a couple of days work.

“It was great to have an opportunity to play in tournaments with sandpaper bats – despite only having five days prior practice – which I really enjoyed.”

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