Anna Hursey says Olympic qualification form was the best of her life

By Graham Thomas, Dai Sport
Anna Hursey believes she produced some of the best form of her career to qualify for the table tennis women’s singles at this year’s Olympic Games.
The teenager became the first Great Britain player to book a place for Paris and will also become the first Welsh player to play at an Olympics after coming through the European singles qualification tournament in Sarajevo at the weekend.
Hursey, 17, earned one of the five places available after a string of victories against players ranked higher than her current world No.98 rating.
Now, she is intent on continuing the bold, attacking approach she believes was crucial to her success.
“I definitely played some of my best stuff I’ve played in that tournament and I think that was partly down to the approach,” said Hursey, who has now withdrawn from ranking tournaments in both the USA and Argentina.
“We didn’t pinpoint this particular tournament any more than others because it has all been about trying to take the pressure off, and just play the competitions as they come.
“I knew I had a chance for the Olympics through ranking, even if I didn’t make it through qualification, so that made me more relaxed.
“I also tried to play with a fast tempo, with lots of movement, and be attacking. Those are my strengths.”
The highlight of Hursey’s unbeaten seven-match sequence was a 4-3 victory against Tatiana Kukulkova of Slovakia, after being 3-0 down.
“I think that’s the first time I have come back to win from 3-0 down in a match and it proves my mentality in matches is getting stronger,” added Hursey.
“That’s something that is going to be super important for me in the future – to have that mental strength.”
Hursey has already competed for Wales at two Commonwealth Games and was a bronze medalist with Charlotte Carey in the women’s doubles in Birmingham in 2022.
Her first was at the Gold Coast in Australia when she was just 11 years old.
“I haven’t allowed myself to think too much about Paris yet, because it’s quite a while away.
“I have got two more tournaments in Europe before then which I need to help with my preparation.
“But going to an Olympic Games is just really exciting and a dream I’ve had since I started playing when I was five.”
Firstly, though, Hursey will continue to rest after admitting the intensity of the schedule in Sarajevo had left her exhausted.
“I am used to only playing one or two matches in a day, not three or four.
“I was so tired afterwards I slept straight through for 15 hours.”