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Monday, 29 July, 2002, 10:31 GMT 11:31 UK

The darling from Down Under

By Mike Burnett
BBC Sport Online in Manchester

She is blonde, beautiful and moves around the court with graceful ease.

It may sound like Anna Kournikova, but it is, in fact, the darling from Down Under.

Tammy Gough is one of Australia's medal hopes in table tennis and is relishing the chance to get on the podium in Manchester in the team, singles and doubles events.

"Australia rates the Commonwealth Games really highly and coming here is the highlight of my career so far," the friendly 24-year-old told BBC Sport Online.

"Hopefully I can get a medal, although I don't know what colour yet."

Gough has already won her fair share of honours - including eight national titles doubles and singles, as well as bronze at the Commonwealth Championship.

"I haven't been to a big tournament like this before - it's awesome"
Tammy Gough

However, it seems that she could be winning over a few admirers in the audience too.

Her long blonde hair and tanned but fresh complexion is rather reminiscent of a certain young lady currently dating Enrique Iglesias.

Gough, who claims she is very much single at the moment, laughs off the comparisons, saying she prefers to concentrate on her table tennis rather than her looks.

"It doesn't phase me if someone says that," she coyly explained.

"I take it as a compliment, but table tennis is my focus."

In fact, Gough has enough on her plate at the moment, juggling her sporting passion with her academic studies.

The athlete from Adelaide is currently completing the final year of a degree course in sports science, which she intends to follow up with a masters in physiotherapy.

Relative success

For the moment though, her thoughts are on the immediate task at hand.

A medal in Manchester would be a dream come true for Gough after just missing out on the Olympics two years ago.

"Yeah, it was really disappointing - I missed out on going to Sydney by one place," Gough sadly said.

"Australia were sending four women and I qualified fifth."

Now the chirpy Australian has a chance to put that behind her, and success in Manchester would be especially sweet because her close ties with the hosting nation.

"My parents are from England and still have the accents to prove it," she laughed.

"Yeah, I'm really enjoying it here. I haven't been to a big tournament like this before - it's awesome."

Win or lose, Gough is in Manchester for the duration, but after that, it is back to study.

Unless, of course, any modelling contracts come her way?

"Yes I'd love to, but I've never been asked," she meekly replied.

Modelling agencies, you have been warned.

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