Table tennis ace Hazell serves up national glory with team gold

Horsham's George Hazell
Horsham's George Hazell
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Horsham’s George Hazell served up national glory as he secured victory in the Cadet and Junior Championships.

The youngster played a key role as his Blades team turned around a seemingly hopeless situation to win gold in the boys’ team event.

Hazell performed alongside fellow Whitgift School student James Smith and Josh Bennett and, after overcoming Ackworth School in the semi-finals, they faced Grantham College for the gold medal.

It looked bleak when Grantham led 2-0 after Matt Leete beat Bennett 3-2 (11-7, 11-5, 9-11, 6-11, 11-8) and Joe Clark defeated Smith 3-1 (7-11, 11-9, 15-13, 11-9). But 17-year-old Hazell started the fightback with a 3-1 (11-9, 9-11, 11-7, 11-7) win over Olly Tyndall, and it was 2-2 when Bennett beat Clarke in three close games (11-8, 14-12, 13-11).

When Leete led Smith 2-0, it looked as if Grantham had steadied the ship, but Smith staged a brilliant fightback, winning it 3-2 (8-11, 9-11, 11-5, 13-11, 11-9) to secure the gold for Blades.

Hazell said: “We were 2-0 down but I managed to beat Olly. It was quite a lot of pressure because obviously we would have lost the match if I had lost. It was a good team effort and James had a really big win against Matt Leete.”