07 Oct 2023

With just 50 days remaining until the ITTF World Youth Championships 2023 in Nova Gorica, Slovenia, at the end of November, the spotlight shines brightly on our scholarship holders who have risen to the occasion.

Out of 38 scholarships awarded, an impressive 32 recipients are youth players under 19 years old. Some of them have already secured their tickets to participate in the Olympic Games in Paris 2024, offering not only inspiration to their peers but also a sign of encouragement for future generations. Our scholarship program has set three distinct goals: Paris 2024, World Youth Championships, and Youth Athlete Development, with an eye on the perspective of the Dakar 2026 Youth Olympic Games. Nineteen out of 32 youth players have brilliantly qualified for the upcoming World Youth Championships in Slovenia. These young talents represent the program’s efficacy in nurturing champions.

View the player list here for ITTF World Youth Championships 2023, happening from 26 November to 3 December 2023 in Nova Gorica, Slovenia.

The ITTF’s “With The Future In Mind” scholarship program, run in cooperation with Olympic Solidarity, supports athletes from promise to prominence. It emphasizes the ITTF’s commitment to fostering talent across the globe. Far from only offering financial support, the scholarship is intended to be a shared commitment between Member Associations and the ITTF in fostering a culture of excellence by creating the ideal training and competition environment for the supported players and providing a pathway for them to reach their full potential.

Bruna Takahashi

Recently, 8 scholarship holders celebrated qualification with their teams for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. Lily Zhang represented the USA, and Bruna Takahashi represented Brazil in the women’s team event at the ITTF Pan American Championships. The competition was fierce, but the USA secured the first qualifying spot, while Brazil clinched the second. Nina Mittelham and Annett Kaufmann played a vital role in Team Germany’s qualification at the Stupa European Table Tennis Championships. They faced strong opposition, including Romania, but emerged victorious, securing their team’s ticket to Paris. Nicholas Lum and his teammates from Australia won the Men’s team event at the ITTF Oceania Senior Championships, booking Australia’s spot at the Olympic Games. Additionally, Nina Mittelham and Nicholas Lum secured qualification for the Mixed Doubles by winning their respective continental qualifying events with their partners (Qiu Dang for Germany and Minhyung Jee for Australia).

“The With The Future in Mind scholarship program doesn’t need any introduction. Over the years, it has been a successful supporting program for athletes,” remarked Massimo Costantini, ITTF High Performance Elite Coach. “I am personally very proud of the individual achievement of each scholarship holder and happy for the collaboration between ITTF High Performance and Member Associations and Coaches. In a very intense volume of training and events, the ITTF’s WFIM program has proven to be a crucial element for excelling in the sport of Table Tennis.”

Felix Lebrun

These accomplishments reflect the program’s legacy and the impact it has had on athletes as they journey towards excellence. In addition to excelling on the youth stage, many of our scholarship holders have made significant leaps in their world rankings. Prithika Pavade and Felix Lebrun, both hopefuls for Paris 2024 and fan favourites, have displayed impressive progress. Pavade, at 19 years old, climbed from 110 to 40 in the Senior Women’s Singles ranking in just one year. Meanwhile, Lebrun, aged 17, surged from 75 to 15 in the Senior Men’s Singles ranking.

Annett Kaufmann

Annett Kaufmann, another promising talent, moved from rank 127 to 50 in the past year. Hana Goda from Egypt, who will turn 17 later this year, strengthened her position in the Senior Women’s Singles Top 100, rising from number 42 to 30. Another exciting development was the entry of Goda’s former Hopes Team colleague, Quek Yong Izaac, into the Top 100 of the Men’s Singles Ranking this year. He made waves at his home Smash in Singapore, climbing from rank 200 to 65 over the past 12 months.

Aditya Sareen

Impressive results in Oceania also led to higher rankings for Australians Nicholas Lum and Aditya Sareen. Lum, at 18 years old, established himself within the Top 100, moving from 42 to 31 in the past year. Sareen achieved a significant milestone, moving from 261 to 37, largely due to his title at the ITTF Oceania Championships. Additionally, Antoine Razafinarivo from Madagascar made a memorable impact at the ITTF Africa Cup, sealing his place in the Men’s Doubles at the 2024 ITTF Africa Championships.

“As we celebrate these achievements, we also acknowledge the dedication of the Member Associations. They have played a pivotal role in identifying and nurturing their players, utilizing the support from the scholarship program to create a thriving environment for growth and development.” – Mikael Andersson, ITTF Group Sports Director

These collective achievements underscore the bright future of table tennis, and the “With The Future In Mind” scholarship program continues to provide the training and competition opportunities needed for young players to flourish.


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