Once incredibly popular, table tennis is enjoying something of a renaissance in Bristol thanks to the free Ping! initiative staged across the city during the summer months.
Team GB’s Paul Drinkhall impressed at the Rio 2016 Olympics but the nation have yet to win a medal in a sport dominated by the Chinese. After a run of success at home and abroad, 12-year-old pupil at St Bede’s Catholic College Louis Price is hoping to change that statistic one day...
Louis says: “About three-and-a-half years ago, I couldn’t play football because it was icy and so I gave table tennis a try. My dad and I used to knock around for 15 minutes every day at home and it started from there. Now, I spend about 10 to 12 hours per week playing table tennis, normally at Bristol Civil Service Sports Club in Filton. There aren’t many table tennis facilities around so we are quite lucky that we have a club like that near our house and that I have a really good coach like Dan Ives, who has helped me a lot.
I play in the Bristol League for Portishead too and it is a really fun and addictive sport. Table tennis is a lot harder and more tiring than it looks when you play at a high level. When you play socially it is easier.
Over the last few months I have worked on putting spin on the ball to make it difficult for my opponent to read it and get it back. I have beaten players much older than me in competitions but I don’t think the adults like losing to a 12-year-old! I used to be nervous about competitions but that has also improved over the last year.
First of all, my aim is to become number one in my age group in England. Jamie Liu, who is from Reading, is there at the moment and I lost 3-1 to him at the Nationals. I also want to play in the Olympics one day and really enjoy playing abroad. It’s good to have the experience of playing against people with different styles.”
Main achievements: 2016 Avon County Championships senior silver medallist, U18, U15 and U13 winner, English National Championships U12 silver in Preston, English National Cup silver in Bristol, part of the England team that won the Danish International U13 event, top 30 in European U12 Championships in Strasbourg; 2015 Third of 1,500 at the Andro Kids Open in Dusseldorf.