Above, header image: the BC Junior Table Tennis Team Squad – coach Andre Ho, team squad members Sofia, Amy, Louise, David, Terri, Ethan, and training assistants Zoia and Jeremy – gathers for a photo after a training session at their home-training base, the Bridgeport Table Tennis Club in Richmond in preparation for the Canada Winter games in PEI.
The BC Junior Table Tennis Team Squad
Introducing the BC Junior Table Tennis Team Squad for 2023. This group of teens has been training together as part of the squad for more than a year, but their focus these days is on preparing for the Canada Winter Games from February 18 to March 5, 2023. The Canada Games is a multi-sport event held every two years, alternating between the Canada Winter Games and the Canada Summer Games. They represent the highest level of national competition for Canadian athletes. As one of the oldest sports at the Canada Games, table tennis has been bringing Canadian athletes to the table since 1967. Coach Andre Ho is confident that his team will do well. A veteran of the Canada Games and the Olympic Games, Andre is no stranger to the rigours of a competition of this calibre. “It’s about focus and concentration” Andre says, “if they can stay focused, then each player has the capacity to do really well. They’ve trained really hard for this event, and I know they’re ready to do their best”.
When I visited the team at their Bridgeport TT Club home base, the juniors has just completed a three and a half hour practise. They were tired but psyched. The team’s conditioning expert had just arrived and was preparing to run the team through a series of fitness assessments to gather data on how each team member was progressing. “Conditioning is as important as table tennis training”, says team manager Ivy Liao, a member of Canada’s Olympic TT team, a veteran of 3 world table tennis championships, and a four-time medallist at the junior Pan American Championships. “With the limited amount of time we have together devoted to table tennis training, we encourage the kids to do fitness training on their own. We test them periodically so ensure they are progressing in overall fitness.”
As I watched, the team was put through a series of 10 tests: consecutive squats to failure, consecutive push-ups to failure, consecutive sit-ups to failure; standing horizontal jump, vertical jump, a measure of core flexibility and shoulder flexibility (sit and reach and shoulder extension); and finally, two timed runs, a 100 meter sprint and 2 kilometer distance run. I was impressed. The kids moved from one test to another eager to do well and not showing signs of fatigue. The conditioning expert overseeing the testing nodded his satisfaction. It turns out, not unexpectedly, that when compared to average Canadian teens, the results show this group of young athletes to be off the scale.
While the exact methodology is a well-kept secret, I was told the team had recently begun supplementing their training with visits to the gym. “We haven’t had the window to fully implement gym training yet, but when we do, I think it will make a significant difference in the team’s overall stamina, power and endurance”, says Ivy, no stranger herself to hitting the weights to become fitter and stronger.
The team leaves on Thursday for a week in PEI. Two practices remain. If the kids are nervous, they don’t seem to show it. From everyone at the BCTTA to each member of the BC Junior Table Tennis Team: best wishes for a great result, work hard and rest up!
Reported by William V.
BCTTA Communications Director
February 14, 2023