Table tennis is one of ACG Parnell College’s fastest-growing sports, and with hotshot players like Oscar Jiang (Year 8) and Oliver Blaom (Year 11), the school is rapidly making its mark as a force to be reckoned with.
Not only are both boys in the school’s top table tennis team (which took out first place in the Auckland A2 grade in 2021), but last year they qualified to move from the Auckland Intermediate B squad into the A squad. Plus, they’ve been selected into the Table Tennis New Zealand national team squads – Oscar in the Under 13s and Oliver in the Under 17s.
Coaches Wei Zhong Jiang and Dinyar Irani couldn’t be prouder.
“Being selected for the national team squads means that both young athletes have excelled in their respective age categories, and this significant accomplishment will give them the chance to represent New Zealand at international events this year,” confirms Dinyar.
“As coach of the Auckland Intermediate B squad and the ACG Parnell table tennis club, I’ve seen the continuous determination, hard work and effort both boys have put into each training session since they became Auckland representative players. I’m happy to be part of their journey and very proud of them.”
Over the past few years, ACG Parnell College’s table tennis programme has flourished. In 2021 over 40 players participated, and the school’s new table tennis academy programme looks set to ensure the growing popularity and outstanding results continue into 2022 and beyond. And with Oscar and Oliver among the line-up, there will be no shortage of inspiration.
Oscar (who Dinyar says “copes well under pressure and is not afraid to attack”) is the youngest in the school’s top team at the age of just 12.
“I felt good and really proud of myself when I found out I’d been selected for the Under 13 squad,” he says. “I never thought I’d be able to make it into a national team, so it means a lot to me.”
Oscar is facing a busy year ahead, with squad three times a week in addition to his club and school training, but he has many ambitious goals to achieve and wouldn’t have it any other way.
“This year, I want to win AIMS Games for table tennis, and my longer-term aspirations are to eventually beat my dad!”
Oliver is also excited to step up his training and improve his spin this year.
“I love the fast pace and flow of table tennis. If both players (or teams) get into a rhythm, really good rallies can be produced,” says Oliver.
Described by Dinyar as “a clever and unique player”, the highly motivated 15-year-old has been immersed in the sport for the past three-and-a-half years and enjoys the diversity and strong sense of community it provides.
Oliver adds, “Table tennis is a sport for all ages and doesn’t require an intense level of fitness, which results in a diverse group of players.”
After winning the Under 18 Mixed Doubles in The Victor Auckland Open last year (his proudest achievement so far), Oliver has now set his sights on taking on the world.
“Eventually, I wish to compete in an ITTF international tournament.”
With aspirations like these, we can’t wait to see what Oscar, Oliver and all of ACG Parnell College’s table tennis enthusiasts accomplish in the year ahead!