Murray Bridge to host 2019 National Para Championships of table tennis

Prepared: Table Tennis Australia chief executive officer Scott Houston, referee Greg Bungey and Murray Bridge and District Table Tennis Association president Gary McDougall prepare for the 2019 National Para Championships. Photo: Peri Strathearn.
Prepared: Table Tennis Australia chief executive officer Scott Houston, referee Greg Bungey and Murray Bridge and District Table Tennis Association president Gary McDougall prepare for the 2019 National Para Championships. Photo: Peri Strathearn.

Some of the best table tennis players in the nation will visit Murray Bridge next month for the National Para Championships.

Paralympians including South Australia's own Sam Von Einem, who won silver at Rio in 2016, are expected to be among up to 100 competitors who will take part in the event at Murray Bridge Showground.

About 20 South Australians will be among that number, along with international champions and medallists from around Australia and a handful of overseas athletes.

The Murray Bridge tournament will serve as the first stage of qualifying for the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics.

Successful competitors will advance to an Oceania para championships in Darwin in May, where spots on the 2020 Australian team will be up for grabs.

Para table tennis is open to anybody with a physical and/or intellectual disability, based on the International Table Tennis Federation motto “one sport, one family”.

Different classes of competition ensure a level playing field.

Table Tennis Australia officials visited the venue for the Murray Bridge tournament, the Ken Wells Pavilion, on Tuesday to meet with committee members from the Murray Bridge and Districts Table Tennis Association.

Championship referee Greg Bungey paid tribute to the association's committee, which he described as experienced and helpful, and to the city's council, which bid for the event.

The association's Heather Richards said no local players were likely to take part, but dozens would help out on the sidelines during the tournament, doing everything from staffing the canteen to acting as ball boys and girls for competitors who had difficulty retrieving balls from floor level.

Spectators will be welcome to attend the free event, which will run from February 1-5.

Murray Bridge's table tennis season will begin in April, with matches every Tuesday night through to September.

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