An Ifield Community College student is leading the way when it comes to girl’s table tennis – at just 16 she has already scoped seven national titles including four singles titles and three doubles titles.
Kate Cheer, 16, a student at Ifield Community College has been playing table tennis since the age of 7 and in the past nine years has achieved recognition in the sport that dates back to Victorian times when it was extremely popular as an after-dinner parlour game for the upper classes. Today, the game also known as ping-pong or whiff-whaff is popular across Asia and is an Olympic discipline.
Inspired to take up the table tennis bat by her Dad, Kate started playing as she wanted to join in and once she started she found she had a flare for the sport and wanted to play more and more. The Ifield student who is studying for her GCSEs has moved on from a gentle family knock-about and is now competing in tournaments as far afield as Israel and is successfully balancing sport and studies.
She says: “Balancing studies with table tennis is sometimes hard as having such a tight schedule is annoying when friends make plans but they are very understanding as a lot of them play football.”
The balancing act has yielded results for Kate and last year she won gold at the Italian Youth Table Tennis Open and she also took part in the European Youth Table Tennis Championships in Croatia. Victory in Lignano, Italy saw Kate and her England team mates Tin-Tin Ho and Emily Bolton beat teams representing the hosts Italy, and European powerhouses of the sport Portugal and Croatia.
Kate said: “Competing in European tournaments for me are amazing opportunities as they have provided me with experience that I do not get in England. I visited Eilat in Israel for a competition which was especially good as it was a country which I wouldn’t have dreamt of ever going to.”
Up next for Kate is the Junior National Cup featuring the top ten domestic players aged 18 or younger playing each other in a league-style format where she will compete in the girls’ doubles competition as well as the competition for the mixed doubles and also the singles competition.
For Kate, the success she has achieved to date is down to one thing and that is a message she has for other girls out there when thinking about sport – belief. She says: “I feel as though many girls are under the impression that women aren’t recognised in sport like men, I agree but it’s just a matter of getting playing, enjoying it and getting better at it! This will enable women to be recognised.”
Looking ahead into the future what is Kate’s goal? Does she have Olympic dreams? “I hope and aspire to play in the 2020 Olympics and will train my hardest to hopefully achieve this” Kate says.
By Jacob White