Supporting Today’s And Tomorrow’s Athletes With GLL

 We spoke with ANNA HURSEY, the youngest person to represent Wales at senior level in any sport at just 10 competing in a European Championship qualification match. Now with 2 Commonwealth Games under her belt we find out what’s next for the child-star. 

Early years: At five years old Anna travelled to Harbin, China with her mother and received 1:1 coaching in table tennis. On her return her talent was spotted and she joined the Welsh national set up. She trained most days at Cardiff City Table Tennis Club. At age 8 she was the under 18 champion in Wales, at 10 made her Welsh senior international debut, winning her first match against Bosnia 3.0 and is believed to be the youngest athlete to compete for Wales at senior level.

At 11, Anna was selected to play for Wales at The Commonwealth Games in Australia. Becoming the youngest ever athlete to compete in the history of The Commonwealth Games, Anna helped Wales reach the quarter finals.

Development: Splitting her training in China and the UK, Anna rose to number 2 in the world at under 15 level, she learnt from the brilliant team GB and Welsh set up, combining hard work and mental application, and was able to fuse this with learning from coaches in China and Japan, who developed Anna’s technique, two countries with a history of producing many of the world’s top players.  Anna combined the benefit from high level coaches in Europe and Asia.

Injury and recovery: In June 2021 Anna had a muscle injury in her back and was unable to train or compete fully for over a year. This proved a difficult time, mentally resilient Anna overcame the injury and was starting to get back to fitness and recovering from the injury by the time the Commonwealth Games started in Birmingham.

After the heartbreak of missing out on the gold and silver medal match in the team event, there was a brilliant bronze medal won in the women’s doubles overcoming a Singaporean pair in the final.

Asia and Europe:
Anna combines training at the national centre in Portugal with training in Nottingham with team GB, whilst Tokyo University is the key venue in Asia. Anna plays her club matches for Sporting CP in Portugal.          

February 2023
: Training in Japan with coach Sunxue and Players from The National Centre Portugal, and at The Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

Focus: Now at 16 Anna is focused on qualification for The Olympic Games; Paris 2024, and strives to become not one of the best younger players in the world, but one of the best in the senior game. Training in Asia and Europe is a key factor.

Anna’s ambassadorship with GLL: Supporting Today’s and Tomorrow’s Athletes 

Anna has received support from the GLL Sports Foundation, the largest independent athlete support programme in the UK, which this year marks its 15th year of supporting today and tomorrow’s athletes.  The Foundation is part of the leisure charitable social enterprise Greenwich leisure Ltd which manages Cardiff’s Better Leisure Centres on behalf of Cardiff Council.

It has always been a core mission of the programme to support young emerging talent on their sporting journey, with the majority of athletes aged under the age of 21 and the largest cohort under 18 years old. Across the programme, 91% of athletes receive no other funding or athlete support, which underlines the importance of the scheme to both athletes and GLL’s social values.

 Since it launched in 2008, the programme has provided over 23,000 athlete awards, with a total financial value of £12.1 million.

Over the past 15 years, GLL Sport Foundation supported athletes have excelled in major competitions and have gained 76 Olympic and Paralympic medals and 77 Commonwealth Games medals.

Along with Anna Hursey, previous holders of GSF awards include Darryl Neita (athletics), Charlotte Worthington (BMX), Alex Yee (triathlon), boxers Anthony Joshua, Aiden and Michaela Walsh, divers Tom Daley, Matty Lee and Andrea Spendolini-Sirieix, swimmers Tully Kearney, Susie Rodgers, Tom Dean and Ellie Simmons.

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