21-year old table tennis star Kane Townsend has survived a gruelling qualification process to earn his selection in Australia’s 2014 Commonwealth Games team.
Townsend, a SUSF Elite Athlete Program (EAP) scholarship holder studying a Bachelor of Advanced Science at The University of Sydney, peaked at the right time during a qualification process that begun with eight competitors, before being cut to five.
Having tied for third in the first round of qualifiers (the first two spots automatically qualified), Townsend set his sights on picking up the third and final available spot that was fought out by four other Australian competitors.
Townsend performed brilliantly and held his nerve, winning three of his final four games (and the last two games with a 4-3 scoreline) to book his spot on the plane to Glasgow, Scotland in July this year.
“In my final match the winner knew they would finish top of the second round robin and be in the Australian team,” explained Townsend. “I’m extremely happy and very motivated to prepare for the Commonwealth Games.”
Selection on the team was just desserts for Townsend, who has been playing table tennis since he was four.
“Both my parents played table tennis at a national level. They started a table tennis club when I was four and I played my first national junior championships when I was nine years old.”
Over the past few years Townsend has churned out a series of consistent results, but it was in 2013 that he really began to make his mark on the sports big events.
Last year Townsend was part of a young Australian team that finished fifth at the Commonwealth Championships in India, well and truly exceeding their seeded position of ninth. His good form reached a crescendo when he was crowned champion at the U21 National Championships, a result which pushed his national ranking into the top six and guaranteed him a shot at the Commonwealth Games selection trials.
Having worked so hard to gain selection in the Commonwealth Games team, Townsend’s next focus will be on spending the next four or five months training for and competing in the Australian Open (the first World Tour event in Australia for over a decade), the Oceania Championships and the World Team Championships held in Tokyo in April (which Townsend hopes to be selected for).
“This will be the highest level that I have competed in if I am selected (in Tokyo),” explains an excited Townsend. “This could be a very busy Semester 1 for me.”
Just days after his Semester 1 final exams at The University of Sydney in June, Townsend is due to compete at the National Championships. Following the conclusion of that event, Townsend will join the rest of his Commonwealth Games teammates in Shandong in China in order to train for a few weeks in preparation for the biggest event of his career in Glasgow.
Competition will be fierce in Glasgow and Townsend pulls no punches when he analyses his teams prospects.
“Singapore will definitely be the toughest country as they have a strong contingent of ex-Chinese national team members. England, Nigeria, India and Canada will also be strong; however Australia will have a good chance against these teams if we perform well.”
I think a medal in the teams event is possible, but it will be difficult. At the previous Commonwealth Games, Australia finished just one spot shy of a medal in the men’s doubles as well, so I believe we could win a medal there also.”
Townsend will definitely compete in the team’s events and he may even grab an individual berth, but regardless of which events he competes in he is confident of one thing – he’ll give his all, just like he did during the Commonwealth Games trials.
“My personal goal will be simply to perform as well as I can and win as many matches as I can.”
The 2014 Commonwealth Games, officially the XX Commonwealth Games, will be held in Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom over 11 days of competition from 23 July to 3 August 2014.