Fourteen-year-old Darcie Proud from Skegness has her eye firmly on the ball when it comes to her sporting goals. A rising star on the international circuit, Darcie tells us all about her table tennis ambitions.
What is the best and worst thing about your sport?
The best thing about table tennis is winning matches and knowing you're improving. The worst thing is all the time you have to spend away from home.
What is your best achievement this year?
The season has only just started for me but it was great to kick-start it with a bronze medal at the School Games for the Midlands team.
What does your normal day and week look like?
I train every day from Monday to Friday (totalling around 20 hours) and then generally have competitions at weekends or England training camps. During the week the coaches come in to my school, Charles Read Academy, on three days and then the same coaches work with me every day after school with the squad at Grantham College. I live away from home during the week so that I can access the highest quality training.
What do you enjoy most about being a sports person?
Winning is the best feeling of all and pushing yourself during training to help make those improvements at competition level.
What would you do if you weren’t a sports person?
I don't know what I'd do but I know I'd be really bored and frustrated if I couldn't play sport.
Who is your sporting hero?
I have two sporting heroes: Deng Yaping who is one of the greatest table tennis the world has ever seen, winning eighteen world championships including four Olympic Championships between 1989 and 1997. I got to meet her and got some coaching advice last year at Nottingham University. Wow! She is also really small like me so it gives me confidence that height is never going to be a problem. Also Jessica Ennis is my sporting hero because of her attitude to her sporting life. To me she just seemed to work so hard and seemed so unaffected by the stardom. A very humble person.
Where is your favourite place to compete?
I don't really have a favourite place yet but I guess it's really anywhere where I'm winning.
If you could win one competition what would it be and why?
Like most people, it would be the Olympics but for now I need to focus on becoming National Singles Champion. It was a great feeling becoming U13 Doubles Champion with my partner and great friend Ruby Chan and I really want the same triumph just for myself.
What is your favourite thing to do when you have some down-time?
It might sound a bit boring but I do like just watching television when I get the chance.
Have you ever had an injury?
I've never had a significant injury that has stopped me training for more than a day, but even missing a day is frustrating. I did have to withdraw from a competition in Hungary a couple of seasons ago due to illness and I still remember the feeling of how awful that was.
Are you good with money?
If good with money means 'Am I good at not spending it?' then, yes, I really am quite good. It takes me ages to decide if I really need something and I generally talk myself out of buying most things. I'm pretty good at spending other people's money though.
What sort of things do you / did you spend your SportsAid grant and fundraising on?
Any SportsAid grant or other fundraising I benefit from goes to help fund international competitions as although I see internationals as the way ahead, travelling to them is obviously much more expensive than any I do in the UK.
How did you hear about SportsAid?
I didn't really know about SportsAid until my governing body 'Table Tennis England' put me forward for the award. I really appreciate them doing this as not only does the funding really help, I also feel it shows they appreciate and acknowledge the effort I'm putting in.
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