Pickleball players strike world championship bronze

Oxford Mail: Bronze winners Ian Wilson, Frances Bird, Alison Eastgate, Gill Smith and Brian Hook Bronze winners Ian Wilson, Frances Bird, Alison Eastgate, Gill Smith and Brian Hook

SUCCESS might be hard to come by for England’s footballers this summer, but the UK’s pickleball players already have something to toast.

The Oxfordshire-based pickleball team flew to Amsterdam last week to take part in a world championship competition.

Now they have returned to the country with five bronze medals in a number of different categories.

Pickleball is a racquet sport which was created in the USA in 1965, combining tennis, badminton and table tennis.

Abingdon resident Gill Smith, who won bronze in the mixed doubles, is a 77-year-old former teacher.

She said: “It went really well for us – it was wonderful.

“Representing our country was fantastic. It was one of the best occasions of my life. I feel so proud.

“We took a Union Jack with us and draped it around us when we won.

“Next year if we are fit enough we will do it again.”

The Oxfordshire Pickleball Club is believed to be the only such club in England.

It was formed in 2011 by Kidlington residents Maureen and Ian Wilson who first encountered the game while visiting Florida.

The tournament in Amsterdam featured teams representing the USA, Spain, France, Canada and India.

Brian Hook, who also won bronze in the mixed doubles, said: “There was a good atmosphere and all the games were played in a respectful manner.

“We had a lovely time there.”

Bronze medals were also won by Frances Bird and Alison Eastgate in the ladies doubles and by Ian Wilson in the mens doubles.

Pickleball was introduced to the county with the help of Oxfordshire Sports Partnership’s Go Active team because the racquets are not sold in the UK.

There is a pickleball group in Scotland, but this was not represented at the recent world championships.

People can attend practice sessions at Kidlington and Gosford Leisure Centre on Fridays, between 7.30pm and 9pm, or at the White Horse Leisure Centre in Abingdon, on Tuesdays, between 2pm and 3pm.

Alternatively email info@pickleballoxon.org.uk

 

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