Vivian Tan wants to go to the Tokyo Olympics.
Vivian Tan wants to go to the Tokyo Olympics.

Why am I not in the squad? Snub riles Olympic hopeful

AUSTRALIAN table tennis player Vivian Tan has demanded an investigation into the game's governing body - and the eight criteria it uses to determine national selection - while also questioning if becoming a mother is now preventing her 2020 Olympic push.

Among Australia's most recognised female players, Tan has hit out at Table Tennis Australia for what she says is an ongoing, and unfair, refusal to allow her to compete for a place at next year's Tokyo Games.

Initially forced from the competitive circuit following the birth of her daughter, Olivia, in 2015, the Olympian and Commonwealth Games bronze medallist is gunning for a Games resurrection.

To qualify for next year's Olympics, however, Tan must first earn her way on to the national squad - a group which has no limit on its numbers.

However when choosing who goes into said squad, the sport's governing body uses an ambiguous set of eight criteria, which include such variables as an athlete's training environment, their attitude and conduct, mental preparedness and even personal environment.

Tan, who works in IT at North Sydney Leagues Club, fears TTA can essentially use the criteria to pick and choose whoever they want to be part of the national squad.

She also questioned how officials could overlook her given she recently won the women's singles Oceania Tour title in Vanuatu - a trip she self-funded - against a field that included at least one other Australian squad member.

"I know I can beat every one of the Australian girls," Tan said.

"So I want to know what's going on. It's so disappointing.

"I really want to get myself to another Olympics but it's like they (TTA) are stopping me.

Vivian Tan represented Australia at the 2012 Olympics.
Vivian Tan represented Australia at the 2012 Olympics.

"They totally run their own show, do whatever they want, and while I realise this isn't one of the bigger Olympic sports, I feel it's time somebody says something.

"Why am I not in the squad? They don't want me back and I want to know why. Is it because I've had a baby?

"You would hope not but I don't know."

In recent months, Tan has dropped 15kg as part of her Olympic push.

"My daughter is now at the age that she can use an iPad so I'm able to train again," she continued.

"I train for hours and hours at a time.

Vivian Tan has her eyes on Tokyo 2020 ... if allowed.
Vivian Tan has her eyes on Tokyo 2020 ... if allowed.

"With no family here in Sydney, I've had nobody to take care of her. But now that she is old enough to come to practise with me, I want the chance to get myself to another Olympics."

When contacted on the issue, TTA chief executive Scott Houston refused to comment.

The sports body did respond, however, with a series of written statements which included: "TTA is a family-friendly organisation and ensures that all laws and regulations in catering to the needs of athletes with families are met.

"There are multiple athletes currently in the national squad who are parents."

They also provided the eight criteria Tan must pass to gain selection. Among them are:

The athlete's attitude and conduct (work ethic, dedication towards success, team spirit, sportsmanship, pride in representing Australia, etc);

The athlete's mental preparedness ("high-achiever" mindset, ability to cope with pressure, level of resilience, fighting spirit, tactical awareness, etc).