2012 Olympic and U.S. Team Trials – My Experience, Part 2 by Roger Dickson

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The Trials!

After a lot of hard work at the Newgy Table Tennis Training Center, the time came to go to Cary, North Carolina for the competition! Liliana Kohann, Coach Swavik and I drove over a day early for the open gym session Wednesday from 1 pm until 5 pm, then a players meeting for all the players in the Thursday qualifier that was mandatory. Some of the topics that were covered at the meeting included pre-match procedures, clothing /advertising, videotaping and discussion of the draw. I was a little disappointed as four players had dropped out and it left 32 to play in the Qualifier. While less players sounds better, it actually made it more difficult for me as I now drew the number four seed, De Tran from New York in the second session. I actually have warmed up with De a number of times but never had played a match against him. Samson Dubina was good enough to offer some advice and it was beneficial to creating a game plan for the next day. Samson’s advice to me was pretty simple –“Don’t push De’s serves… attack!” I should clarify that comment, attacking is not just looping or smashing but more about aggressively using spin variations to compliment your strengths or to expose a weakness in your opponent.

So Thursday morning came, and I was able to get a good stretch and sweat going before meeting in the preparation area for racket testing, ball selection and to line up for the processional walk to the court. In my 20+ years of competing, I never had to walk out in front of approximately 175 people and get introduced! It was a humbling and yet motivating feeling and with all eyes watching you get to show your skills!

To end the suspense, I didn’t get a game from De but I did make him sweat and there were several incredible points that got a round of applause from the crowd! I did video the match and will proudly watch it knowing that I got to experience something that few do! Plus I know the effort put forth in training allowed me the confidence to give my all!

Roger Dickson

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