Table tennis in Baku earned highest marksPhoto: David Ramos/Getty Images
MERCER: We are all extremely proud that we were part of first European Games
The curtains came down for the Table Tennis Event at the inaugural European Games in Azerbaijan’s capitol Baku. The Baku Sports Hall was the venue for the Table Tennis. The Hall was just perfect for the sport, whilst the complete staff gave their best in making unforgettable event. Players praised the conditions, spectators responded well, despite the fact that Azerbaijan is not the country with the richest history in table tennis and fantastic matches put the final stamp on great tournament.
Person who was in charge for the seven days events was Sheila MERCER, Table Tennis Competition Manager.
Asked when the preparations started, MERCER answered:
“I have been here for 10 months; I came at the beginning of the September but the planning already started a year before that. I had local assistant who started working in January, two more local and two more international staff.”
As it was the case on every other event volunteers were the main working force in Baku Sport Hall.
“We had 89 volunteers working just for table tennis in two shifts. The days were so long here, so we had to split them to two shifts. We had 28 international technical officials and 20 more from Azerbaijan who also helped us to run the tournament.”
The most challenging moment in the preparations for the event was the venue.
“Most challenging was getting the venue ready. When we started it must be redevelop. It took a long time to get the building finished. ”
However, it was worth waiting.
“We had a beautiful venue for the table tennis. I am very please how it has been designed.”
The introduction volunteers with the sport were one of the challenges as well.
“They are very young, mostly students, and they have never seen something like that before. It was difficult for them to understand, when they got here, what is all about.”
The table tennis event got nothing but positive reaction from all players and officials.
“We can already say that it has been huge success. Usually, you have much more time to plan, than we had here. In case of Olympic Games and Paralympics you have seven years when the initial planning starts; here we had less then two years. Also it brings us to the country which have not the history of staging anything as major as Games. At the end they did a great job. Also volunteers did a great job, they were so enthusiastic, so keen. They gain valuable experience for future. And the same goes for us. It has been the first European Games and we are all extremely proud that we were part of it.”
For seven days top European players fought for titles in Singles and Teams Event and for the place at the Olympic Games. The winners of the Singles event booked their place for Rio 2016. In Rio will travel Li Jiao of Netherlands and Dimitrij OVTCHAROV of Germany. In Men’s Team’s Event Portugal justified their status. Netherlands is most successful nation in Women’s Events.