FRINGE Olympic Games hopeful David Powell will add a touch of class to Warrnambool Table Tennis Association’s annual tournament this weekend.
Powell missed out on making the London-bound Australian team by one spot after placing fourth in the Australian squad qualifiers.
Instead, the 21-year-old Croydon resident will continue to contest the Victorian circuit and is favourite to win the open grade at the Arc on Saturday.
He is one of two high-profile players who will travel to the south-west for tournaments at Warrnambool and then at Hamilton on Sunday.
Mornington’s Dillon Cathcart will contest the under 18 and open grades, fresh from success on the national stage.
The 17-year-old won bronze in the open singles at the Australian senior table tennis championships at Brisbane a fortnight ago.
Tournament director Mark Taylor said Powell was “the highest ranked Australian that’s still in Australia”.
He said the presence of the highly-rated pair would provide Warrnambool players with an insight into the skills required to make it at an elite level.
“Both Dillon and David have been overseas training for a significant portion of the last 12 months in an effort to make the Olympics,” he said. “Unfortunately, David came very close. I saw the results and I think he should be really proud of his results.”
Taylor said the tournament had attracted about 50 players, a drop from last year, but several competitors would contest two grades. The under 18 boys’ grade has 32 nominations, while the under 15 boys’ grade has 26.
“Mostly we get the players who are ranked four to about 12 and this is the last minute to get some extra state team points to secure their places,” Taylor said.
Warrnambool teenager Ben Taylor and Hamilton’s Justin Field are the leading south-west contenders in the under 18 grade.
Hamish Porter and Kieran McDowell, both from Warrnambool, have strong claims for under 15 success.