2012 hope for ping pong kid
By Saxon East
Prospect: Darius Knight looks forward to the Olympics in 2012. Deadlinepix: GH2059-05
A table tennis player is hotly tipped to shine at the Olympics when they reach London in 2012.
Aged just 15, Darius Knight won the under-21 national singles title earlier this month and is already ranked seventh best in the country.
He is joined by other excellent players at York Gardens Table Tennis Club, including Wing-Yung Chang, who is aiming to win the European Cadet Youth Championship this year.
Darius needs quality training facilities that you find in places such as China, a traditional bastion of the sport. He said: "You need a lot of hard work to be the best. I have not had anywhere stable to train and am always going abroad.
"When I play in China I can beat most of them my age, it's just trying to beat the ones older than me.
"You need to be taught at a very young age, then you are on the right track. When I play around the world I want to be beating the men."
Darius, from Ravenent Street, Battersea, started playing five years ago and, unlike many other teenagers, is determined not to stray in his quest to become a world-class player.
He said: "I'm not missing anything this is what I do. My family are very proud and I'm determined to keep going, work hard and stay focused."
But Darius fears a lack of investment could seriously hamper his and the country's chances at the 2012 Olympics.
Even the York Gardens club does not have a permanent base and is left at the mercy of changing schedules.
He said: "A regional or national centre for every sport is needed, that way you can improve the sport and get results. I think we are suffering, and we will keep on suffering until we get these centres up."
At least good news could be on the horizon if Wandsworth Council, which has set up a special Olympic Games 2012 committee, funds the club.
Chairman Tony Draper, who started the club 41 years ago, says the players are so keen they even practice in his shed.
He said: "I will beg for premises. We are doing our best and it would really help us achieve our goals. We hope there will be funding."
10:48am Friday 3rd March 2006