Belfast Telegraph

Commonwealth games: Emma Ludlow enjoys her moment of glory at the Games

By Nik Simon

Opportunities for Northern Ireland’s table tennis hopefuls to shine on the global stage do not come around very often, so Emma Ludlow savoured the moment yesterday when she stepped out on the Commonwealth Games show court.

The 17-year-old, who will be studying for her A-Levels when she returns to Grosvenor Grammar School after the summer holidays, came up against New Zealand veteran Annie Yang in the group stages at Scotstoun in Glasgow.

Ludlow lost 4-2 on the big stage — having beaten Sierra Leone’s Stella Grant earlier in the session — but could not contain her happiness after waiting six years for the chance to mix it among the best in the world.

“It’s absolutely incredible,” said Ludlow. “I’ve been looking forward to the Commonwealth Games for about six years.

“This is the biggest competition I’ll get to play in — the Olympics are a bit beyond me at the moment.

“It was amazing to play on the show court in front of a massive crowd. There were random Scottish, Welsh and English people shouting ‘go on Emma!’ They were cheering for me and it was unbelievable.”

After winning the Irish senior title in March, Ludlow convinced Northern Ireland selectors to send her on the plane to Glasgow. Ludlow’s mother, Anne, was non-playing captain at the youth Commonwealth Games in India.

She was in Scotland for the opening days of competition to cheer on her daughter, who has been collecting team pin-badges from every nation at the Games.

“There are so many athletes here from different sports and we keep seeing celebrities all over the place,” said Ludlow. “Usain Bolt is living in the same village that I am — a couple of my friends have seen him around, but I got a selfie with the Queen!

“I’ve just finished my AS levels, so I’ve got to start looking at universities when I get back to Northern Ireland. Languages are probably the way that I’ll go. I’ve been studying French and Spanish; I’m not sure that I’ll do a sports course.”

While Ludlow failed to progress from the group stages, Paul McCreery showed some fine form as he beat Khethang Mothibi and Tyrone Tun to qualify for the knockout stages.

McCreery has been studying engineering at Nottingham University and is in the process of deciding whether to turn his attention to the Rio Olympics in 2016.

“I’m hoping to get to the last 32 on Thursday night and then take it from there,” said McCreery. “I used to get ahead of myself when I was younger, but now I take it one match at a time. I’m 22nd seed so the last 16 is very reachable as well.

“I’ve had some good wins here and I’m nearing the end of university, I might go full time. This tournament has probably swayed me towards it.”

Amanda Mogey also progressed following victories over Idau Chris and Farwa Babar in the morning session. She was joined in the knockout stages by Ashley Givan, who progressed through the evening games, while Ashley Robinson and Peter Graham also went through.

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