“My dream is to represent Great Britain at the Olympics and I’m desperate to make this a reality but I need help to make this come true.
“I want to put the nation on the map for table tennis at the highest international level and be on the Olympic podium one day.”
Meet David Thompson, the 18-year-old Sheffield table tennis prodigy, an English national champion at U18 level and ranked no.1 in the North East.
The talented teenager is aiming to break the Chinese dominance at Olympic level and become the first Briton to be world champion since Johnny Leach in 1951.
The gifted youngster has been given the unique opportunity to live and train at the Zhengding Centre in China, which has produced over 50 World Champions, for a year from September - but needs £15,000 in funding to make this dream a reality.
The Handsworth-born starlet took up the sport aged 10 at Athelstan Primary School and was a natural with his first shot. But how would he handle questions from Grass Roots’ Ruth Dacey?
How did you get into the sport?
Some coaches came into my primary school and I loved it instantly because of the competitive nature and the speed of the game. I then joined Vulcan Table Tennis Club and after 12 months I was South Yorkshire no.1 thanks to help from the county’s leading coach Alan Lowe.
He has really helped me develop over the last 3 years and now I want to make him, my family and the city proud by hopefully going on to compete at the highest stage in the future.
What has been your greatest achievement so far?
Representing North East England at the School games in 2013 in Sheffield and getting through to the semi-finals, to play in front of a home crowd was amazing.
Also another brilliant memory is taking on former Sheffield Wednesday player Michail Antonio and beating him! He kept boasting about how good he was so I contacted him on Twitter.
I played him at Wednesday’s Middlewood training ground and beat him 21-1. Michail actually won the first point but I didn’t give him a chance after that.
Why is it essential to find funding so you can train in China?
Currently eight of the world’s top 10 are from China and it would be fantastic to be able to train in a facility that has produced such top clash players. Unfortunately the UK cannot compete due to funding and training but I want to buck the trend and now is my opportunity.
I can train for between six and nine hours a day in China and have the best training in the world. I’m prepared to dedicate my life to this sport and that’s what it takes to be a champion.
I hope and pray that a company, sponsor or individuals can help me with my dream because my club and I are not able to raise the money for this and there is no funding available in the UK.
What are your aspirations for the future?
I want to be part of the Olympics, and who knows with the right training I could one day be on the podium. I want to put Sheffield and the nation on the map for table tennis, but the first step will be managing to find sponsorship to go to China. After that I want to compete in European leagues and work my way up right to the top!
David’s next competition is the NatWest Jersey Open Grand Prix, from April 3-5, and he is looking for funding and sponsorship to help him go to China this September to help with his future development. Interested parties are asked to contact David on 07958134872 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.