Javier Sotomayor, Falkland Islands' sole table tennis representative at the Commonwealth Games, works fulltime as a hairdresser in one of the only three salons on the South Atlantic archipelago. The 36-year-old also happens to be the first paddler to play for Falkland Islands, a British Overseas Territory, in the history of CWG. And he can only thank his day job as a hairdresser for his big moment at the Birmingham Games.
"In 2006 I was working in Santiago as a stylist and someone who had opened a hair salon in the Falklands flew to Chile to find hairdressers," said Sotomayor, who is originally from Chile. "I went to work for them for one year, then came back to Chile. After getting married to my wife Andrea I went back to the Falklands and we opened our business, Belle Hair Salon."
Sotomayor has been there ever since, combining two of his passions. "I started playing table tennis when I was nine, and was No.6 in Chile when I was 12 years old. I played for five more years but stopped because of study and work. I then started again in the Falkland Islands around eight years ago because this is my sport. I missed it a lot," he said.
He is now working hard to continue the growth of the sport in the country, which became the International Table Tennis Federation's 227th member in November last year. "We are only four players. We try to do the best because we are not professionals. We don't have any competition. I went to the Island Games three years ago but the Commonwealth Games will be completely different," Sotomayor said.
"It's good to learn and play with better players. It doesn't matter if I lose. I'm feeling 100 per cent." The Falkland Islands delegation in Birmingham also includes two regular clients of his salon.