Who is Anna Hursey? All eyes on teen table tennis sensation at Commonwealth Games

·3-min read
Anna Hursey will compete at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.  (AFP via Getty Images)
Anna Hursey will compete at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. (AFP via Getty Images)

The Commonwealth Games are about to begin, and there’s one athlete table tennis fans will be keeping an eye on.

Anna Hursey, who at the age of 16 is one of the youngest athletes competing, took the table tennis world by storm as an 11-year-old, when she featured at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

"There were always people asking for interviews," Stephen Jenkins, the former Welsh table tennis player who is now national coach, told BBC Sport. "They wanted to know some bizarre questions. What does she eat? What does she listen to? Everything they wanted to know about this 11-year-old superstar.”

Now, with Birmingham stepping up as hosts this summer, all eyes will be back on the Welsh sports star.

But who is Anna Hursey? And why is she attracting so much attention?

Who is Anna Hursey?

Hursey made her professional tennis debut in 2017 at just ten-years-old, when most young kids would be focused on getting ready to start at secondary school. She competed for Wales in a European Championship qualification match against Kosovo and became the youngest person to ever represent Wales at a senior level in any sport.

She competed for Wales at the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast in Australia, in doing so becoming the youngest competitor in the Games’ history, and later that year she was nominated for the 2018 BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year award.

Hursey has also been ranked the number one Welsh under-15 woman, and number two ranked Welsh woman of any age.

The teenager was born in Carmarthen, Wales and moved to Tianjin, China in 2019 to play table tennis full-time and to live with her mother, who is Chinese. The Covid-19 pandemic meant she had to return to the UK, but she plans to see her mother and family once restrictions ease up.

Commonwealth Games

Manchester storm: the teams are given a great greeting by spectators inside the stadium Picture: PA:
Manchester storm: the teams are given a great greeting by spectators inside the stadium Picture: PA:
Flying the flag: Darren Campbell leads the England team Picture: Reuters:
Flying the flag: Darren Campbell leads the England team Picture: Reuters:
Helping hand: an unidentified dignitary gets friendly with the Queen. Picture: Reuters:
Helping hand: an unidentified dignitary gets friendly with the Queen. Picture: Reuters:
Becks appeal: David Beckham carries the Jubilee Baton Picture: AP:
Becks appeal: David Beckham carries the Jubilee Baton Picture: AP:
The bravest girl: Six-year-old Kirsty Howard and Beckham hand the baton to the Queen Picture: AP:
The bravest girl: Six-year-old Kirsty Howard and Beckham hand the baton to the Queen Picture: AP:
Caring kiss: Beckham gives Kirsty a hug Picture: Reuters:
Caring kiss: Beckham gives Kirsty a hug Picture: Reuters:
Drumming up support: the spectacular opening ceremony had some original touches. Picture: PA:
Drumming up support: the spectacular opening ceremony had some original touches. Picture: PA:
Top of the world: Denise Lewis receives the baton. Picture: AP:
Top of the world: Denise Lewis receives the baton. Picture: AP:
Best of British: The Red Arrows fly over the stadium above the Guard of Honour. Picture: Reuters:
Best of British: The Red Arrows fly over the stadium above the Guard of Honour. Picture: Reuters:
Let the games begin: The 38,000 people attended the opening ceremony. Picture: Reuters:
Let the games begin: The 38,000 people attended the opening ceremony. Picture: Reuters:

Climate change activism

As if maintaining a full sports career while taking her GCSEs wasn’t enough, Hursey is also a Young Champion for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). She has even had US President Joe Biden and the US Embassy get in touch for her input on solving the climate change crisis.

Hursey said: “I’ve been involved for a couple of years (with climate change activism). Last year the US Embassy contacted me to help them with whatever they are doing. That’s because I’ve been a young champion for the UNFCCC.

“I’m not too sure how the UN thing came about. It was a couple of years ago but I think it was to do with my table tennis and I think they might have read somewhere that I have asthma. So I’ve always been interested and very passionate about climate change.

“I had a meeting with (the US Embassy) last year just to talk about what I could possibly do in the future. At the moment I am just focused on Commonwealths and exams and I’m still trying to study and learn about climate change because I’m still young. I’m carbon neutral myself and doing all I can at the moment and hopefully I can be more involved with them in the future.”

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting