Table Tennis: Chen fights back

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THE NATIONAL champion, Chen Xinhua, had to ignore a three-hour pre-match row over illegal glues, and the theft of pounds 1,600 worth of property from a car, to give England the one victory they needed in a 4-2 win over the Netherlands to ensure their Super Division status in the European League for another season at St Austell yesterday, writes James Leigh.

Chen's concentration was affected by the robbery, which involved the loss of spare bats and sports equipment as well as gifts, but he recovered from 13-17 down against the Dutch No 5, Peter de Vrind, before winning 21-19, 21-14.

This 1-0 lead insured England against relegation because they had a 4-0 lead from the first leg. However, there had been a few moments when the tie had seemed at risk because the Dutch coach, Li Gishu, threatened that his side might not play.

During a heated argument the visitors had been told to re-rubber their bats as they contained the 'fast glue' banned by the International Table Tennis Federation. The Dutch were under the impression that all glues were permitted if they were put on more than 24 hours before competition, but eventually they stripped their bats down and re-rubbered them with different glues.

The Netherlands pulled the match score back to 1-1 when Trinko Keen pulled off a 21-14, 21-

17 win over the former Commonwealth champion, Alan Cooke.