Table Tennis: England inspired by Prean

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The Independent Online
CARL PREAN won three times at Bletchley Leisure Centre as England beat France 4-2 last night to follow the Isle of Wight player's two victories at Grantham on Thursday - thus confirming the impression that he may well prosper from the controversial glue ban imposed only a week ago, writes James Leigh.

Five successes for the former national champion and two victories for the home country in two days have suggested that all the English players may be better off for the ban, brought about because of potential health dangers, but which could slow down the quicker attackers by up to 20 per cent, according to expert estimates.

England won both matches against France, whose leading player Jean-Philippe Gatien failed to win once in four attempts. Even allowing for the fact that the Olympic silver medallist and English Open champion may not always have been in top gear in these friendly internationals, it raised questions about the adaptability to this new set of rules of a flamboyant attacker who was world No 1 only a few months ago.

Prean last night beat Gatien 21- 11, 21-11, as well as the promising 19-year-old Christoph Legout, and earlier in a televised challenge match for a new prize, the Butlins Trophy, also overcame his successor as the English national champion, Chen Xinhua, by 21-17, 21 16.

Chen will be the top seed for the Cleveland Five Star open starting today at the Thornaby Pavilion. So too will England's Lisa Lomas who is scheduled for a final tomorrow with the Russian No 1, Elena Timina. Last night Lomas played a marvellous match against Wang Xiaoming, France's European No 6 holding a match point before losing 14-21, 22-20, 22-24.