Craig Howieson frustrated by funding ahead of Commonwealth Games

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Craig Howieson is delighted he will be going to the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games – but fears he will be left counting the cost of funding cuts.

On Wednesday the 27-year-old was named in the Team Scotland squad which will depart for Australia in early April.

Yet the Edinburgh player remains bitter about sportscotland’s decision to withdraw financial backing for Scotland’s Table Tennis competitors in the wake of the Glasgow Games four years ago.

Howieson – who is preparing for his third Commonwealth appearance – and team-mates Gavin Rumgay and Colin Dalgleish are even having to fund their own trip to Dusseldorf for a training camp in the build up to going Down Under.

And the PE teacher from Edinburgh claims the lack of support has already put his medal bid on the back foot.

The Scottish number two – who will compete in the singles and team events and possibly the doubles alongside Rumgay – told Press Association Sport: “We’ve had zero pounds invested in us in terms of performance since the games in Glasgow.

“For the last four years we’ve had to pay our own way to everything or find sponsors to help out.

“Commonwealth Games Scotland are very supportive and will pay for us to go to Australia but we’ll have to find the money ourselves for the Germany trip.

“You’ll be hard pushed to find any other Scottish athlete going to the Gold Coast who is pay for a training camp themselves.

“I could go on for hours about how frustrating that is. Between the age of 18 and 20 I made huge progress and had some really encouraging results in the lead up to the Delhi Games.

“But when we came back they took the funding away from us.

“In 2012 we got funding again and by 2014 my results were improving again as we’d had 18 months of good training.

“But three months after Glasgow they took our funding away again. It feels like we’re being treated with contempt.

“Of course if they invest money you have a better medal chance. I suspect the reason they don’t is because table tennis is a really hard sport to win medals in as you have to win so many matches to get to the medal positions. Everything with sportscotland is measured in medals.

“But instead of giving us a fighting chance, they don’t. They say, ‘Get on with it and see what you can do’.

“I’ve had so little funding during my career. I wonder how good I could’ve been had I had the support other players get.

“Maybe I’d be going to the Commonwealths this summer not just with an outside chance of a medal but as a real prospect.”

Despite his funding frustrations, Howieson is determined to make the most of his Gold Coast experience.

“It’s great to be named in the squad,” he said. “In Delhi I was so young and everything was new to me.

“Glasgow was amazing but there was just so much pressure on us as home athletes.

“This time I’m just going to try to enjoy it.”

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