by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Manager
Has that happened to any athlete in any discipline at the current Games?
Perhaps in the table tennis events in 2002 in Manchester it happened but on that occasion everybody was on debut. However, did not every player in a medal winning team compete at least once; since that date it’s difficult to identify a player who won a medal in the table tennis competitions on debut sitting on a bench.
However, there is one fact of which I’m sure; she is the youngest! Denise Payet was just over one year old when the Commonwealth Games were held in 2002 in late July and early August; she is 16 years old.
“Sitting on the bench, supporting the girls, I was so nervous. It was great to be in that atmosphere. I wanted them to win so much.” Denise Payet.
Denise Payet is from Enfield, it is suburb of north London; the local football team is Tottenham Hotspur. She is member of the Ellenborough Club, a club with deep traditions from which England internationals have emanated, the name of Graham Sandley comes to mind.
Resigned to the bench in the Women’s Team event, in the Women’s Singles competition she could not have made a better start. She accounted for Ruqayyah Kinoo of Mauritius in four straight games (11-2, 11-4, 11-7, 11-2).
“I’m really happy, my first match and on the show court; I’ve travelled a huge distance, halfway across the world. It’s just a great experience. My goal is to reach the top ten in the juniors next year and play in the World Junior Championships in 2019.” Denise Payet
Goals for junior level but what about the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games; just a drive from Enfield up the motorway?
“Next time, the 2022 Commonwealth Games, to play in the final!” Denise Payet
There is every possibility; she displayed very good technique and composure in her open contest.