Watch above: Saskatoon is home to a top table tennis athlete, but as Carly Robinson reports, she is the only one at her level in the province.
SASKATOON – When people hear Alayna Chan is an elite table tennis athlete, often the first thing she deals with is getting them to acknowledge table tennis as a sport, the second is typically beating them at the game.
“I get people who say they play in their basement all the time, saying they can probably beat me” said Chan, who became the Table Tennis Canada champion in women’s doubles last week in Trois Rivieres, Que.
“I like being able to show people that it is a real sport, and how difficult it is not only physically but also mentally,” said Chan, “but that’s why I love it. ”
Alayna Chan displays her Table Tennis Canada championship women’s doubles medal. Luke Banville / Global News
Alayna Chan displays her Table Tennis Canada championship women’s doubles medal.
Luke Banville / Global News
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In order to be the best, you have to train with the best. Chan, 21, spends countless hours training for her sport, but most of it has to be outside of Saskatoon. Being the only table tennis player at her ranking in Saskatchewan, she goes to Belgium where the sport is more competitive.
Even though much of her training is elsewhere, Chan is extremely proud of her prairie roots.
“I’m just really proud to be from Saskatchewan. When I go to nationals and they call my name, I’m almost more proud to hear Saskatchewan than to hear my name.”
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Her coach, Paul Noel, said this is just one example of how “she showed that she is not just the small girl from Saskatchewan who tries to play, but that effectively she can play.”
Noel hopes that table tennis will grow in popularity in the province, saying it is the most complete sport for school aged students because of both the mental and physical dexterity required to play.