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Learn more about the sport of table tennis
Date: 19/12/2011
It's great to have the opportunity to blog here on yougo4it and I am looking forward to telling you more about the sport of table tennis and how my preparations are going ahead of the Olympic Games next year.

I'll start at the beginning as my rise in my sport has been very different to most. I was only 10 years old when I first started playing table tennis. It was really fashionable where I lived as all the older boys played it and I wanted to be like them. At the time I was living in South London and spent a lot of my time hanging around the streets with my mates. However I wanted so much more from life and table tennis gave me a ‘way out'. In the year 2000 I walked into a Youth Club in Battersea where there was a table tennis table set up and I picked up a bat. A guy named Gideon Ashison was the coach there and he motivated me to keep playing. It didn't take long for me to fall in love with the sport and I wanted to see how far I could go with it.

I am now based in Sheffield where I train at an academy at Sheffield English Institute of Sport (EIS). This involves training Monday to Friday for at least six hours a day and competing most weekends. Training involves working on things like agility, strength, core stability, running (speed and endurance) squats and much more. It's so important that I look after my body, so whilst I don't have to maintain a set weight like some sports I do eat healthily so I can become stronger.

I am currently ranked number 3 in the English Seniors after a great year. At the moment I have my sights firmly set on qualifying for the London 2012 Olympic Games. I think it would be amazing to play in front of a home crowd at such a major event and that thought drives me on a daily basis. I will find out next May if I am selected for Team GB.

Another aim of mine is to raise the profile of table tennis with young people so they can have the opportunities that weren't available to me when I was younger. I was recently involved in the Fred Perry Urban Cup which attracted over 100,000 young people from across the UK. It was great to see so much enthusiasm for the sport. The competition was won by Wigan Athletic with Arsenal as the runners up.

I have recently competed in the British Championships, and an Under 21's event at the ITTF Pro Tour Grand Finals which took place at ExCel. This was a test event for the Olympic Games and I was really pleased to be selected for it as some of the best players in the world were there.
Something else I have done recently was to take part in an advert for Cadbury's. I don't currently receive funding so opportunities like this are a huge help and filming was great fun to do as well. I received a goody bag from Cadbury's which was a bonus!

Well I hope that's given you a flavour of what I do. Don't forget to watch my podcast too. Make sure you come back in January to read about my Christmas and New Year and find out how my preparations and competitions are going.

Have a great Christmas

Darius

Read all about Darius at Christmas and New Year

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