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The opening ceremony may have been over a week ago, but Emily Bolton’s Commonwealth Games are only just beginning.
The 24-year-old Askam table tennis player was a late call-up to the England squad for the 2022 Games in Birmingham, but unfamiliarity breeds little contempt as Bolton and Charlotte Bardsley dispatched of Ugandan duo Jemimah Nakawala and Judith Nangonzi 3-0 in their doubles round of 32 match.
Bolton has seen the rest of her team take to the table while she has watched from the side-lines, forced to make do with staying sharp in practice.
But whatever the Cumbrian has been doing, it worked as the pair won 11-3, 11-3, 11-4 to breeze through to the round of 16.
Bolton admitted it was hard having to wait and was relieved to have stepped up to the plate after so long.
“The days have been ticking by and it’s been slowly building up so I’m really happy that when we’ve got out there to play we’ve played really well and won quite convincingly,” said Bolton.
“Hopefully we can build from there and see what we can do.”
This summer, Team England, supported by funding raised by National Lottery players, comprises of over 400 athletes, all vying for medal success.
Bolton, from Askam, is a national doubles champion, and reached the final of the 2022 edition alongside Bardsley, only to beaten by fellow Team England players Tin-Tin Ho and Maria Tsaptsinos.
But while the other three were off to Birmingham, Bolton was staying at home until an injury to Mollie Paterson saw her get the call.
And while the long wait has been frustrating, Bolton believes it has helped ease her in to the Games environment.
“I came in last minute so was chucked in at the deep end,” added Bolton.
“To have that time to settle has helped me, practising with the girls has kept me ready.
“I think the preparation has gone really well.”
Bolton and Bardsley will now face Tianwei Feng and Jian Zeng in the next round on Saturday, and the 24-year-old knows exactly how to prepare.
“Happy that we’ve won today, rest, practice, and hopefully we can put on another good performance,” said Bolton.
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