International Womens Day 2013

Not that we should ever need an excuse to celebrate our female players but International Women’s Day gives us an ideal opportunity to look back at the 2012/2013 season to date and pay tribute to the achievements of the women of Irish Table Tennis.

August ‘12 saw two of our Paralympians, Rena McCarron Rooney and Eimear Breathnach in action at the 2012 London Olympics. Na Liu represented Team GB and posted some impressive results in a difficult draw.

Following on from her Olympic experience Na Liu teamed up with Ashley Given to bring home gold from the Senior Six Nations for the second year in a row.  Not only did they win the Women’s competition but their performances contributed to Ireland winning the Combined Team Championship Gold.

The Women’s British League team of Sabrina Devereux, Emma Ludlow and Hannah Lynch Dawson had some outstanding performances over two weekends culminating in a thrilling promotion decideder in February ‘13 which saw them gain promotion to Division One.  We’ve no doubt that they will build on this experience and enjoy further success next season.

The Irish Veterans Ros Carpenter, Gillian Richardson and Sharon Brien were in fine form also in February finishing in 2nd place at the Veterans British League in Doncaster. Teresa Devaney had an extremely successful trip to Turkey for the Turkish Open winning Gold in both the Singles and the Doubles before taking home silver in the mixed doubles. Devanney is still flying high in the Women’s Singles rankings domestically and is a fantastic role model in terms of her commitment to the sport.

The Butterfly National Senior Championships last weekend in ALSAA produced some really nail biting matches with Ashley Given eventually coming out on top beating Amanda Mogey in the final. Katie McGlone made it all the way to the semi-final, a remarkable achievement for the young cadet.

It was not just on the High Performance end of things that we saw our women in action with record number of female players attending the Stiga Junior Challenger tournaments all around the country. The schools programmes funded through Irish Sports Council funding are going from strength to strength with more girls getting involved, joining clubs and progressing up the rankings.

History was also made at administrative level this year, when the ITTA elected its first female Chair in Pat Hunter. Speaking today, Pat stated;

“Sport is a very powerful social change tool because it teaches women confidence, self esteem and strength. We are delighted on International Women’s Day to celebrate the achievements of our female athletes – the importance of positive role models for young girls in sport is often underestimated and we are lucky in our sport to have some top class female players for our young players to look up to and learn from. We have some top class female athletes coming through our system and have made significant efforts through our Women in Sport programme to drive female participation in our sport upwards. We are very grateful to the Irish Sports Council who are the main funder of this programme. So to all our female athletes – keep up the good work!”

All in all it has been a successful year for Ireland’s women, long may it continue!