BLACKBURN is set to get its own racketlon club and join the increasingly popular and exciting sport.
The aim is to get more people in the borough playing the sport that combines the four racket events after another ‘no show’ at the recent Lancashire Open.
The borough hosted the first county open last year and staged the second one recently – but on each occasion there were no entries from East Lancashire players.
Organisers aren’t too concerned at the apparent lack of interest in the sport that includes table tennis, badminton, squash and tennis.
They believe that setting up a club will encourage more people to take up the sport and, hopefully, give East Lancashire a presence in next year’s event.
“Racketlon at the moment is a bit like the triathlon was when it was first introduced in this country,” said organiser Siraz Natha. “It is the coming together of a number of sports and it takes time for it to take off.
“But if you look at triathlon now, it is incredibly popular and has many clubs across the country.”
The aim is to form a Tri Racketlon club - which will include three of the four sports; table tennis, squash and badminton – at Shadsworth Leisure Centre.
“We held a Tri Racketlon taster session at Shadsworth ahead of the Lancashire Open and held a mini tournament.
“We invited those those who finished in the top three to the county event but unfortunately they could not make it.
“But setting up a club in Blackburn is the way forward and the right way to promote and raise the profile of the sport.”
The aim will The Lancashire Open was once again held at Blackburn Northern Sports Club and Pleckgate High School.
The tournament again attracted around 20 players but this time the majority were from the North West rather than across the country.
Dubbed the raquet cousin of triathlon and declathon, racketlon is a combination of skill and endurance in the four sports.
The competiton will be for men and women of all abilities who will compete in elite, advanced and amateur categories.
The format sees players play each other in first to 21 in each of the four sports.
The winner is not the one who wins the most sets but the one who accumulates the most points over the four sets.
“That is the best thing about rackleton, every point is important,” added Mr Natha.
“You could feasible lose three events and win the fourth by a big margin and win the match.
“So that is why you should always battle for every point, even in the sport that you consider to be your weakest.”
They were split in to three groups, Men ‘A’ for players who play a county standard in at least one of the sport, Men ‘B’ for club players and Ladies.
Group A included four players who played each other on a round robin format. And it was David Thomas from Manchester who emerged victorious with Phil Todd from Southport runner-up. Naveed Malik from Preston was third.
Group A included 13 players and used the Monrad System - the first round winners contesting the higher the positions with the losers battling it out for the lower places.
And it was James Couper from Couper to who took the title.
Couper, from Guildford, was involved in one match which underlined the attraction of the sport.
He lost the open table tennis match to Kevin Lewis 21-0 but still came back to win, thanks largely to a 21-0 win himself in the squash.
Stephen Dow was second with David Hunter third.
The women’s event was round robin with Manchester’s Rachael Brannigan first with Aimee Kirkup and Louse Jackson second and third respectively.
Siraz, who competed in the Men’s B event, said that because the sport is still in its infancy, competitors will get a national ranking.
“That’s something to tell the kids when the sport becomes really big,” added Siraz who finished ninth in Group B.
“It will get bigger and already more and more players in the North West are showing an interest in a sport which is still more of a southern based sport.
“We have already set up a Great Manchester Open and there are plans to get one in Liverpool as well.
“It may take some time but we are determined to really raise the sports profile and setting up a club in Blackburn will certainly do that.”
For more details contact Siraz Natha on 07950 827404 or Iqbal Bhai on 07970 216334.