The England athletes going for medals at this summer’s Commonwealth Games will not be the only ones with England representative honours on the field of play in Birmingham.
The Assistant Sport Competition Table Tennis Manager at Birmingham 2022 is none other than former England youth international Kate Nixon.
Kate (pictured above at the Mark Bates Ltd Nationals recently) last represented England at the Cadet 6 Nations at Lilleshall in 2014 – where she was in the same squad as Denise Payet, a Commonwealth Games medallist from 2018 and who is likely to be competing in Birmingham.
Shortly after that tournament, Kate decided to focus on her studies, which ultimately took her to a degree in sport management at Northumbria University and from there into the Birmingham 2022 role.
Kate said: “I found sports events interesting and thought it would be a road I’d like to go down. I saw the job advertised online and applied.
“My role is helping the competition manager, Sheila Mercer, in planning and organising the competition – and at Games time I’ll be managing the warm-up area and the volunteers.”
Kate’s table tennis career began at the age of nine or 10 when she was introduced to the sport by her father.
She said: “My dad was a player and he got me involved and I played around Yorkshire – not at any one club, all over.
“At about under-13, I played for Yorkshire quite a lot and on the national stage I lost in two singles finals at the (age group) Nationals and in a doubles final, with Kate Cheer.
“I played twice for England, at Cadet 6 Nations events in Denmark and in England and then I focused on school – I really enjoyed sport but I wanted to focus on getting GCSEs, A Levels and going to university.”
It’s a decision she does not regret, although keeping playing may have provided a route for her to join up with Payet again in the draw for this summer’s Games.
Kate said: “I don’t ever think that – I don’t think I would have been good enough, really. Maybe I could have been top 10 or 15 in the country but I think I stopped at the right time to focus on my studies, doing other sports and socialising with friends. To be the best, you have to focus and sacrifice a lot.
“I could go for a hit or probably play local league or something, but I play for fun now.”
The chance to play a key role at Birmingham 2022 is something Kate relishes, and she recently had a role alongside the Table Tennis England team delivering the Mark Bates Ltd National Championships, allowing her to get a feel for what happens in the ‘back-of-house’ area at an event.
Kate said: “I think it’s going to be a lot of fun, exciting. I think it will be great to see how much planning and organising goes into it and how it all comes together and the hard work pays off.
“It will be a combination of enjoyment and work.”