A pupil at an Essex independent school has claimed two major table tennis titles in the space of a single weekend.
Charlie Donald, a student at Brentwood Preparatory School, won the Independent Association of Prep Schools (IAPS) U-11 national table tennis championships in Radlett, Hertfordshire, in a tournament open to more than 600 schools.
He then went on to claim victory at the Jack Petchey Schools’ U-11 finals, held in the University of East London’s SportsDock centre. Organised by Table Tennis England, the tournament boasted more than 150 players across events in four age groups
“This is an amazing achievement and even more notable given that he is still only in year five and should be competing at under-10 level,” said school head, Jason Whiskerd.
Charlie’s mother, Lindsay, explained how his talent runs in the family.
“Charlie’s older brother, James, has Asperger’s Syndrome,” she said. “In order to try and help improve James’ coordination and agility we built James a table tennis room at home.
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“Within a year, James was a county level player and competing at table tennis competitions around the country, achieving his highest national ranking of 10 in U-13s,” she added. “As soon as Charlie was old enough, he picked up a bat and followed in his older brother’s footsteps.”
That was when Charlie was four or five, although at that point he was too short to see over the table. Happily, grandad was on hand to stand him up on an old milk crate to play, and the precocious talent could be revealed.
Charlie was only eight when he took the Essex U-11s championship, a title he has held ever since. Table Tennis England currently give him a national ranking of fourth in his age group.
Natural talent without application would only carry a sports ace so far, of course. To that end, Charlie trains three times a week for a total of around eight hours, before competing around the country most weekends.
“I’m really happy, I’ve had a fantastic day,” he said, following his latest triumph.
“I thought I might get to the final but I wasn’t sure about winning it. My dad helped me by coaching me and telling me to keep calm, smile and enjoy it.”