Home   Sheerness   Sport   Article

Minster's Ross Wilson aiming to channel his inner Thierry Henry in bid for table tennis triumph at Commonwealth Games

Ross Wilson hopes he can live up to his billing as the 'Thierry Henry of table tennis' at the Commonwealth Games this summer.

Aged seven, the Minster-born star won his first-ever table tennis competition while wearing an Arsenal shirt on a family holiday to Center Parcs.

Ross Wilson is hoping to add to his gold from the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia. Picture: Vid Ponikvar/Sportida
Ross Wilson is hoping to add to his gold from the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia. Picture: Vid Ponikvar/Sportida

The organiser of the competition was so impressed by Wilson's natural ability that he coined a phrase comparing him to the prolific ex-Gunners striker and World Cup winner.

Exactly two decades later, Wilson is eyeing even higher acclaim as part of Team England's para table tennis squad at Birmingham 2022 under the tutelage of one of his early table tennis heroes, Andrew Rushton.

"We went on a family holiday to Center Parcs, and I started playing in a competition there, I think against my sisters, who also used to play," Wilson said.

"I won the competition there and I had a Thierry Henry shirt on and the guy running it called me the Thierry Henry of table tennis, and it all started from there. I've been playing ever since.

"I watched so many Commonwealth Games when I was little. I remember watching some doubles matches of Andrew Rushton, who is now one of my coaches.

"He shared his experiences, and it went perfectly in Australia [four years ago] so hopefully I can build on that in Birmingham."

Wilson is bidding to defend the singles title he won in the men's class 8 on the Gold Coast in 2018.

He is one of more than 1,100 elite athletes on UK Sport's National Lottery-funded World Class Programme, allowing them to train full-time, have access to the world's best coaches and benefit from pioneering technology, science, and medical support.

Next on the agenda is starting a psychology degree at Sheffield Hallam University in September.

"I struggled with depression and so had therapy alongside my career. That was a really big thing for me at the time," Wilson added.

"I thought it was one of the best experiences of my life and it's really had a positive impact on me. It's something I want to go into and do for other people.

The 27-year-old attributes a large part of his success and happiness to the support he received and hopes he can one day help those facing similar mental health problems.

"I think it's so important for athletes to have something else to work on alongside sport. I think it's healthy to have something else in your life.

"I hope it will have a positive impact on my performances and that I'll be even more excited to play in competitions."

A decade on from winning bronze in London 2012, Wilson fondly recalls the special atmosphere a home crowd can generate, with a limited number of friends and family able to attend in Australia four years ago.

"I know what a home crowd is like and that's a special feeling," he said. "It's such an advantage, it really pushes you on.

"My girlfriend has got tickets from day one to the last, and so have my family and my mum. My sister is due to have my first nephew whilst I'm playing, so maybe I'll be dedicating a medal to him."

This summer, Team England, supported by funding raised by National Lottery players, will comprise more than 400 athletes. Having secured his place in the squad, Wilson is looking to capitalise on the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for medal success in his home country.

The presence of family members will make this summer one to remember for Wilson, regardless of the outcome. And with the pandemic having curtailed several events, Wilson is approaching these Games with child-like anticipation.

"It's been strange, not having so many competitions. It's been so nice to have this to look forward to," he said.

"The closer it gets the more excited I am. It's only a month to go, and it has come around so quickly.

"I hope to bring back the gold medal for everyone and I'll give my everything to do it."

National Lottery players raise more than £30million a week for good causes including vital funding into sport - from grassroots to elite. Find out how your numbers make amazing happen at: www.lotterygoodcauses.org.uk and get involved by using the hashtag: #TNLAthletes

Close This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.Learn More