National champion refuses to play for England

Table tennis
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The Independent Online
Table tennis

Carl Prean is refusing to play for England in the opening match of the season against Hungary at Leeds next week in protest at the way in which he claims he was treated during the World Championships in China in May, writes James Leigh.

The national champion and his father, John Prean, who also is his manager, say that unless there is a change in the management it is unlikely the longest-serving current England player will represent his country again.

Prean has played for England for 14 years and has more than 280 caps, but his reluctance to play through a knee injury in China apparently upset several colleagues and one of them, the former national champion, Chen Xinhua, was involved in a confrontation in a hotel room.

"Chen assaulted Carl and might have injured his wrist," claimed Prean Snr, although Chen denied this allegation as vigorously as the chairman of the England selectors, Richard Habgood denied there was any attempt to bully Carl into playing whilst unfit. "This week I compromised my principles for the sake of England by giving in to the Preans' preconditions," Habgood said. "And Carl still won't play - I'm very disappointed."