Anna Hursey table tennis

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - AUGUST 04: Anna Hursey of Team Wales competes during Women's Singles - Round of 32 match between Nigeria and Wales on day seven of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games at NEC Arena on August 04, 2022 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Tom Dulat/Getty Images)

Anna Hursey Chases Olympic Selection In Saudi Arabia

sportswales

By Graham Thomas

Anna Hursey will bid to take another big step towards earning selection for the Olympic Games this week when she chases table tennis world ranking points in Saudi Arabia.

The 17-year-old Wales and British number one female player broke into the world’s top 100 earlier this year and is currently ranked 97.

Hursey will bid to push that figure higher in Jeddah on Wednesday, when she plays in the Saudi Smash 2024 (May 1-5) where ranking points as well as a record £1.6m prize money is on offer.

The Commonwealth Games bronze medalist in Birmingham in 2022 would convince the GB selectors she is worthy of entry for the Paris Olympics women’s singles event if she takes her world ranking to around the 80-mark, although they may opt to pick her anyway even if she remains in the 90s.

Having moved rapidly from a position of 163 last summer, Hursey is considered to have shown huge potential at world level.

“It was a nice surprise when I broke into the top 100, but I am still trying to get my ranking as high as possible,” said Hursey.

“For me, the Olympics is possible. I am playing in a lot of competitions and I am training really hard, but I’m also just trying to enjoy the process and not think so much about the outcome.

“It would be a dream to qualify and if I keep improving then I think I’ve got a really good chance.”

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 three weeks ago.

“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.”

Anna Hursey Moving Towards Olympic Dream After Rapid Ratings Climb

Before preparing for the tournament in Saudi Arabia, Hursey retained her women’s singles title at the Welsh National Championships in Cardiff at the start of April when she beat her Team Wales Commonwealth Games doubles partner, Charlotte Carey, in the final.

Hursey, who was born in Carmarthen before going to school in Cardiff, also attended a recent Table Tennis Wales club session in Cardiff where she played an exhibition match against Welsh men’s champion, Callum Evans.

“It’s important for me to help spread table tennis as much as I can,” added Hursey.

“Anyone, of any age, can play table tennis and we have some good young players coming through in Wales. As well as competing, it’s a sport that has allowed me to travel around the world, which I love.”

Hursey earned headlines around the world when she represented Wales at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia at the age of 11.
She was believed to be the youngest person ever to compete at a Commonwealth Games.

Anna Hursey Targets Paris Olympics After Top 100 Breakthrough

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