Anna Hursey Targets Paris Olympics After Top 100 Breakthrough

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - AUGUST 05: Anna Hursey of Team Wales plays a shot against Yangzi Liu of Team Australia during the Table Tennis Women's Singles Quarter-Final 3 match on day eight of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games at NEC Arena on August 05, 2022 on the Birmingham, England. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

Anna Hursey Targets Paris Olympics After Top 100 Breakthrough

sportswales

By Graham Thomas

Anna Hursey has set her sights on a place in the Great Britain team for the Paris Olympics after breaking into the world’s top 100 women players.

The latest World Table Tennis (WTT) rankings show Hursey placed at No.93, making the 17-year-old from Cardiff Britain’s highest-ranked player.

That status in itself will not be enough to guarantee Hursey Olympic selection, but if she makes it into the world’s top 80 by June of next year, she is likely to earn a place in the opening round draw in Paris.

“The last few tournaments I’ve played in, I’ve felt as though I’ve been making big improvements and that has got me into the top 100,” said Hursey, a bronze medalist for Wales, along with Charlotte Carey, in the women’s doubles at last year’s Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

“Now, my coaches are looking at the possibility of me, maybe, qualifying for the Olympics.

“It’s hard to get there and you have to be a little bit higher than I am at the moment, but it’s definitely possible.
“There will be around 80 places available through the world rankings, which gives me quite a few more tournaments to play in before June.

“I think there’s a really good opportunity there for me and to go and play in the Olympics would just be amazing.”
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.

Just over five years later, her progress through the senior rankings has accelerated with recent success that has shot her up from 163 in the rankings in the summer.

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.

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 Carey five years ago.

Hursey is currently playing in another youth tournament in Slovenia, where more senior ranking points will be up for grabs.

She is also helping Table Tennis Wales promote their latest taster sessions at the National Sports Centre in Cardiff and at Cardiff University – designed to boost participation and also discover the next Anna Hursey.

“We are trying to get more young people involved in the sport because it’s a sport suited to everyone and so enjoyable,” she added.

“I started when I was five years old and it’s allowed me to spend lots of time doing what I love, make some great friends, and have some life-changing opportunities by travelling all over the world.”

Hursey will be back travelling very soon, with training blocks planned over the next few weeks in South Korea.

“I’ve been to South Korea before and really enjoyed it. I’ve also been to Japan and China, so table tennis has allowed me to see different places.”

She will also be back in Wales in March of 2024 for the Welsh National Championships, where she will defend her senior women’s singles title, won last year in a thrilling final against Carey.

“There’s a really good spirit among all the Welsh players and I really enjoying spending time with them,” adds Hursey.

“That’s really important because if you’re good friends with people, you can connect as a team and achieve good results.”

The taster session programmes are run at the two Cardiff venues as well as at the Mackintosh Sports Centre in the city in Roath.

One of them is open to all ages and abilities and run by Mackintosh Table Tennis Club at Sport Wales National Centre at Sophia Gardens in Cardiff.

It takes place every Thursday evening from 7.00pm to 9.00pm.

For more information, email: bmf27@yahoo.com.

The other takes place at Cardiff University Sports Training Village (CF14 3AT). To find out more, contacts: Sport@cardiff.ac.uk

From January 13, 2024 Mackintosh Table Tennis Club will also be running a junior section for 10 weeks at the Mackintosh Sports Club.

For more information, contact: Nathan Thomas via cardiffcityttc@gmail.com

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