Table tennis is coming home! That was the big news which dominated the second half of 2023 as Table Tennis England won the right to host the centenary 2026 World Championships in London.
The announcement was made at the ITTF’s Annual Meeting in Bangkok in August, where our Chair and Chief Executive, Sandra Deaton and Adrian Christy, presented our bid to the delegates, highlighting London as the birthplace of the ITTF and the World Championships in 1926.
The summer had begun with Margaret Dignum winning two gold medals for England at the European Veterans’ Championships in Norway in July, where there was gold as well for David Mahabir and Betty Bird as well as a host of other medals.
At the other end of the age spectrum, Ralph Pattison narrowly missed out on a medal at the European Youth Championships, though his exploits did lift him to the verge of the top 10 in the European rankings.
Pattison did get a medal in August, however, as part of the England team which won bronze at the ISF World Schools Gymnasiade in Rio – a first ever medal for England at the event.
Members of the England team were given star treatment at a photoshoot to mark the renewal of the agreement with our Official Clothing Supplier, Butterfly.
And England’s David McBeath created a social media sensation with an amazing wrong-hand smash which helped him secure a contract in the first ever Major League Table Tennis season in the USA.
Major events were on the agenda in September as Sheffield hosted the European Para Championships – and among eight singles medals for the GB squad, there was yet another title for Will Bayley, whose gold medal secured a place at the Paris 2024 Paralympics. There were also four doubles medals for the GB squad to complete a successful event.
The end of the championships also marked the end of the tenure of Karen Tonge OBE as Chairperson of British Para Table Tennis.
Continuing the major events theme, there was also news that England would host its first ever WTT Feeder event in Manchester in February 2024.
And, with an eye on producing further talented youngsters in the Performance Pathway, we revealed our first four Pathway Development Centres.
International Umpire Josh Reynolds was awarded the honour of officiating the men’s final at the European Team Championships in Malmo.
Table Tennis England Chief Executive Adrian Christy was appointed to the International Table Tennis Federation’s Rules Committee.
October saw Liam Pitchford come so close to winning his first WTT event as he was beaten in the deciding game of a pulsating final at the Contender event in Muscat by world No 5 Hugo Calderano.
Also on an international podium was Isaac Kingham, who took a superb silver medal at the WTT Youth Contender in Montenegro. Fellow rising stars Kacper Piwowar and Abraham Sellado became top-10 hits in the European rankings.
There was a change at the helm of the Table Tennis England Board as Nick Donald was appointed as Chair after an extensive recruitment process, following Sandra Deaton chairing her last meeting after nine years’ of exceptional service.
Director Sally Hughes was appointed to a key European Table Tennis Union equality committee, while CEO Adrian Christy was a category winner in the CEO of the Year Awards.
In November, Brighton teenager Bly Twomey continued her meteoric rise since making her international debut in March by beating the Asian Para Games champion to take gold in the women’s class 7 singles at the ITTF SQY French Para Open.
Staying with Brighton TTC, their founder Tim Holtam praised an amazing team effort at the club after he was given a prestigious National Lottery Award, winning the sports category.
The first cohort of 10 coaches were selected for the SHEcoaches initiative which aims to identify and upskill the next generation of female talent and performance coaches.
It was not only Twomey having success on the international stage – Dimitar Dimitrov reached the under-11 final at the WTT Youth Contender in Ecuador, losing to the top seed.
And a new competition landscape was set in motion as the first steps to implement the changes outlined in the Competition Review were revealed.
As the year drew to a close, Wales and GB athlete Anna Hursey won a doubles silver medal at the World Youth Championships in December.
We launched an online archive, showing photos of some of the historic artefacts in the Table Tennis England collection.
And, to seal a magic year, our latest TT Insider film on TTE.TV featured the journey of Leon Thomson – who combines playing and coaching table tennis with a career as a magician.