23 Feb 2018

Only 14 years of age, Australia’s Parleen Kaur is the youngest female player on duty at the 2018 ITTF Team World Cup in London.

Notably on the morning of Friday 23rd September, she teamed with Jian Fang Lay in the doubles contest against Romania; of all the pairs possible in the Copper Box arena it is the one with the biggest age difference. At 44 years old, Jian Fang Lay is 30 years the senior!

by Olalekan Okusan, ITTF-Africa Press Officer

Parleen Kaur was the last minute replacement in the team for the far more experienced Miao Miao and that is why the teenager is in London. She is in England’s capital city to gain experience; the goal is the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

“It was indeed a rare opportunity to play alongside a high level player like Jian Fang Lay. She is so experienced and playing with her boosted my confidence. I picked up some lessons from partnering the best player in Australia.” Parleen Kaur

Now a year 10 student at Haileybury College in Melbourne, Parleen Kaur started to play table tennis when seven years old; when 11 years old she attended the 2011 ITTF World Hopes Week in Slovenia.

“I never thought I would ever play at such a high level but by sheer diligence and determination I have worked my way into the Australian team. Initially when my father introduced me to the sport, I was reluctant but in time, I fell in love with the sport.” Parleen Kaur

Currently Parleen Kaur is the Australian Cadet Girls’ Singles champion.

“It feels great to be considered as the youngest in such a high level tournament. Aside from competing with the best in the world, I gained some experience that I can work on when I get home. The experience is vital to fulfil my dream of representing my country at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. I know it will not come on a platter of gold; I need to work hard for it. Competing at the Olympic Games is a dream of every athlete and I hope I can make it there in 2020.” Parleen Kaur

However, like many teenagers, Parleen Kaur, who competed at the recent 2017 ITTF World Junior Championship in Italy, has to combine study and high level sport.

“I must say that it has not been easy marrying table tennis with my studies but I am happy that my teachers have been supporting whenever I am away representing my country. They understand me and they help me to get back to my studies even after missing classes.” Parleen Kaur

Present in London but there has been somewhat of a disappointment for the teenager; she will not be competing in Gold Coast in April at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

“I don’t feel bad not making the team. I was satisfied with my performance during the trials and I hope I can still play at the Commonwealth Games in future.” Parleen Kaur

Absent on home soil, welcome in England for the 2018 ITTF Team World Cup and she will be very welcome to return in 2022; in that year Birmingham will host the Commonwealth Games.

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Day 4 - 2018 ITTF Team World Cup