GOLD COAST 2018
Youngest and oldest make their mark at Commonwealth Games
Eleven-year-old Welsh table tennis prodigy Anna Hursey and a 79-year-old Canadian shooter make history
Gold Coast — The oldest competitor in the Commonwealth Games’ history, as well as a girl thought to be the youngest, drew attention as they took part in shooting and table tennis, respectively.
An 11-year-old Welsh table tennis prodigy, who broke records and caused amazement at the Games, met her match on Tuesday when she was ousted from the women’s singles.
Anna Hursey thrashed Uganda’s Halima Nambozo 4-0 but came unstuck in her second pool match against Malaysia’s Alice Chang Li Sian, 17, who won 11-8 11-8 11-3 11-4.
Despite the defeat, it has been a stunning debut for Hursey, who stands just 1.6m tall and is thought to be the youngest athlete in Commonwealth Games history. Hursey, the youngest competitor fielded by Wales, also played in the women’s team competition, helping the Welsh to doubles wins against India and Sri Lanka.
The school pupil, whose mother is Chinese and who has training stints in China, is known for her attacking style but Chang was able to absorb the pressure as well as Hursey’s noisy support from the crowd.
"She has a lot of supporters but I don’t care about the outside [noise], I just play my match," Chang said.
Hursey’s coach, Stephen Jenkins, praised the girl’s composure in the spotlight, saying: "Nothing fazes her. She is really relaxed when she plays and just enjoys it, really.
"Anna herself says to me she is not nervous, which baffles me, because I’m like, ‘Surely you are a little bit nervous’?" he said. "Anna just thrives off, and feeds off, the crowd, really," the table tennis coach said.
Also on Tuesday, the oldest competitor in Games’ history took part in shooting. Canadian Bob Pitcairn, a 79-year-old former pilot who once foiled the hijacking of a passenger plane, came a respectable eighth out of 16 in the Queen’s Prize Pairs finals fullbore shooting.