Olympic Gold Medallist but Now Portland has a New Gem - Pure Pong in the Pearl
Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Christian Lillieroos (left) advises members of the ciaching group in Portland
Photo By: Tim Aikey
Name the most popular sport in the city of Portland, situated in the state of Oregon in the north west of the United States, the answer might well be running.
The Portland Marathon is well established in the world of athletics and star names have honed their skills in the metropolis.
Notably Galen Rupp, American record holder and silver medallist in the men’s 10,000 metres at the London 2012 Olympic Games is a member of the Nike Oregon Project, as is the man who won the gold medal. Great Britain’s Somali born Mo Farah relocated to Portland in 2011; both are coached by Alberto Salazar.
A Competitor for Mo Farah However, it would the running now has a definite competitor; the competitor is table tennis!
Opened in March Earlier this year in March, the Pure Pong in the Pearl Table Tennis Club was opened.
A two story building it is the largest Ping Pong Club in the United States and it caters for absolutely everyone, being open daily from 3.00pm to 10.00pm.
A Good Rhythm Furthermore, it follows the trend of being a club to visit where the music plays and when it’s time to take a break, visit the bar for a drink.
Most certainly to play table tennis you need to be in a good rhythm; in Portland it’s “Swing and Sway the Pure Pong Way” and if you need help, you need a lesson; then American international Sean O’Neill available to give advice.
Sean O’Neill Winner of the Men’s Singles title at the North American Championships in 1990, Sean O’Neill represented the United States at five World Championships between 1985 and 1993; whilst also competing in the Men’s World Cup in 1992 and the Olympic Games in both Seoul in 1988 and Barcelona in 1992.
The DJ, the food it’s really cool; it’s a great environment come on down to Pure Pong in the Pearl
ITTF Level One Course Plenty of action and recently from Wednesday 24th to Sunday 28th July 2013, Christian Lillieroos visited to conduct an ITTF/PTT Level One Coaches Course; Kayse Dahl reports.
Pure Pong Sponsors ITTF Coaching Course Pure Pong Sponsors ITTF Coaching Course by Chrisitan Lillieroos by Kayse Dahl
Pure Pong in the Pearl, a newly opened and the largest Table Tennis club in the nation recently sponsored an ITTF level one training course at the club’s location in the Pearl District of Portland. Pure Pong opened this past March, with a mission to inspire everyone to take advantage of Table Tennis in America as a fun, healthful sport, while building camaraderie, developing skills, igniting a sense of nostalgia, and bridging the gap between Ping Pong and Table Tennis.
Approached by course organizer, Tim Aikey, Oregon’s current Table Tennis State Champion, Pure Pong owner, Duane Smith, did not hesitate to seize the opportunity to help educate local players, to inspire a higher level of play in the area. Smith hopes a trend of higher-level play, and Ping Pong play in general, will take effect nationally in the coming years.
“In order to promote Table Tennis as a legitimate sport, and encourage new players to get involved on a competitive level, it requires a good number of solid coaches that are able to go out into a community, and pass on their knowledge and passion for the sport” said Smith of his motive to sponsor the coaching course—donating Pure Pong’s optimal venue space with 20 plus tables and 40 foot ceilings, as well as audio visual equipment to facilitate an enhanced learning experience. Pure Pong also sponsored four local players to attend the course, in order to become certified.
“I was excited to have the opportunity to further my comprehension of Table Tennis in all aspects, and to gain the credentials to become a coach” said Tom Roeser, one of the players sponsored by Pure Pong who has been playing competitively since 2008.
The five day, 30 hour course is designed to equip coaches with the skills and resources necessary to transform a five year old beginning player, to an 1800 level player in five years. The forum of the course utilized both theory and practical segments, to provide participants with all-inclusive skills to effectively convey instruction both physically, and verbally. Nineteen local participants signed up for the course, taught by prominent figure in the Table Tennis community—Christian Lillieroos.
Lillieroos has been active in Table Tennis internationally, primarily as a coach and administrative figure as the Development Director for USATT and chairman and Coaching Officer for the ITTF Paralympics in Africa, Taiwan, Malaysia, Mexico, and Bermuda. During his time working with the USATT, Lillieroos worked with Olympian and one of the highest ranked Table Tennis figures in America, Sean O’Neill. O’Neill is now a Portland resident, and hosts coaching lessons at Pure Pong. Having the opportunity to work with O’Neill again, as O’Neill enrolled in the course, provided additional incentive for Lillieroos to make the trip to the Pacific Northwest.
Lillieroos has taught over 40 courses, five of which, have been under the new generation of the ITTF course standards. Of the 40 some courses Lillieroos has taught, the course instructor says he has never taught a group like the participants enrolled in the Pure Pong sponsored course—describing the group as a “Rare group of talent”.
“The Pure Pong group had a very high philosophical and spiritual aura. Everyone taking the course changes the dynamic depending on who they are, and this group brought a high level of thinking—one I have never experienced before” said Lillieroos. Lillieros was not only impressed by the students, but by the Pure Pong venue as well.
“Pure Pong is like a dream come true” said Lillieroos, “The United States is like a fourth world country when it comes to Table Tennis. The barrier between Table Tennis and Ping Pong needs to be broken. It needs to be ‘ok’ to play Table Tennis. Pure Pong is helping raise the level from Ping Pong to Table Tennis through ventures like sponsoring this course. The success of Table Tennis lies in the promotion of Ping Pong” Lillieroos continued, which is also a belief held by Pure Pong.
Pure Pong and Lillieroos are currently seeking opportunities to collaborate again in the near future, with hopes of ultimately raising awareness and respect for the sport here in the United States.