Tom Jarvis will be flying the Lincolnshire flag on the world stage this summer, as the English table tennis champion is picked to represent his nation at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.
Tom, 22, was born and raised in Skegness and has been playing table tennis for around 16 years. 2022 has so far proven to be his best year yet, winning the English Championships and then recently being selected for England’s Commonwealth Games team.
Tom had to prove himself to earn that spot on the team for the Games, winning a mini tournament against other potential teammates to be given the coveted final spot on the table tennis team.
This comes fresh off the back of what Tom describes as “quite a hectic few months”, as he won the English Championships in March to cement his place as one of the best talents the sport has to offer.
“I knew I had a chance at winning”, Tom told The Lincolnite. “It was the competition I grew up watching. I went to watch it live when I was about nine and I remember joking to my family that I’d win it one day.
“When it actually happens it’s all a bit mad, I couldn’t believe what I had achieved, it was amazing.”
Tom’s table tennis journey began at at the age of six, watching his brother play on the tables in the school hall at Richmond Primary School in Skegness. He picked up a bat as a six-year-old and eventually joined a club two years later.
He describes his rise from the school hall to national glory as one of hard work, saying he had “zero talent” and just practiced every day: “It all escalated from there [Richmond school hall] really. I felt I could make it in the sport when I won the under-11 national title, I’d trained really hard every day with plenty of hours under my belt.
“I trained in Grantham 4-5 times a week, which is around an hour and a half from Skegness, so my grandad and mum did a lot of travelling to take me there as well as up and down the country for tournaments.”
His next challenge is without doubt the biggest one yet, as he has been trusted as one of the 13 players to be named in the full England Commonwealth Games table tennis and para table tennis teams.
With the Games being held in Birmingham this year, there is an extra incentive for a positive result, and Tom made no secret of his desire to achieve big things in the sport, starting with possibly a medal at the Commonwealth Games.
“Everyone in the team feels we have a realistic chance to win gold, it’s been a big focus since Tokyo [Olympic Games] and it’s definitely what we will be looking to do.
“It’s a home Games, so it doesn’t get much bigger than this. If you don’t get nervous for something like this then you aren’t human! I’ve played thousands of matches before, though, I think the pressure will get to me once I’m at the table.
“I would love as many people as possible watching, if you can get tickets to come and watch us live that would be amazing.” You can buy tickets from the Commonwealth Games 2022 website.
The table tennis at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham is scheduled to take place between July 29 and August 8 this summer.