Anna Hursey

Anna Hursey is off to the Olympic Games. Pic: ETTU

Anna Hursey Admits She’s Tired . . . But She’s Off To The Olympic Games At 17

By Graham Thomas

Anna Hursey admitted she had to overcome fatigue as she became the first Welsh table tennis player to qualify for the Olympic Games.

The 17-year-old – who became the youngest athlete to compete at a Commonwealth Games as an 11-year-old six years ago – is through to compete in Paris after a hugely impressive qualification tournament.

Hursey beat a string of players above her in the world rankings to take one of five players on offer.

It means she has guaranteed her place in the Great Britain Olympic squad for later this summer, without having to rely on selection choices.

But Hursey, from Cardiff, conceded the effort of playing seven matches in two days had left her exhausted.

“The tiredness was the hardest part,” said Hursey.

“We had so many matches. I am used to playing one or two a day in other tournaments, but it was difficult here. I have played seven.”

In her final match, Hursey beat Georgina Pota of Hungary – 11:9, 9:11, 11:8, 11:7, 11:4 – to secure her qualification.

“It feels great to win this match,” added Hursey after victory over a player 30 places higher in the world rankings.

“Last night, I woke up a few times. I was very excited. However, I did not feel so much pressure because I am still very young.

“Against Pota, it was important to take away the pressure from my game. I played very well.”

Hursey’s progress through the senior rankings has accelerated with recent success that  shot her up from 163 in the rankings last summer to inside the top 90 by early this year.

She reached her first senior WTT tournament final in October in Doha, where she finished with a silver medal after losing to world No.62 Joan Zeng of Singapore.

That breakthrough – which included three earlier victories over players ranked in the top 100 – took Hursey to just outside the top 100, to No. 106.

In the middle of November, Hursey then won a major U19 tournament in Slovakia that carried senior world ranking points.

Anna Hursey Chases Olympic Selection In Bosnia

That propelled her to inside the leading 100 senior women for the first time – the second Welsh women to make it into the top 100 after Charlotte Carey five years ago.

Hursey did have another route to Paris in the mixed doubles, when she was paired with Britain’s men’s number one, Liam Pitchford.

But that path depended purely on tournament qualification, rather than selection, and it ended when Pitchford withdrew with a shoulder injury ahead of the qualifying tournament in the Czech Republic last month.

“For me, the singles route to the Olympics was always more realistic,” added Hursey.

“Although Liam is a fantastic player and ranked 30 in the world in singles, we were a new partnership and we were still trying to work out some new systems.

“The singles was always the most likely way for me to get to the Olympics this year.”

 

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