15-year-old table tennis player Kenny Jiang of Burnaby had the opportunity to experience top-level competition right in his hometown as Fortius Sport & Health hosted the 2018 Butterfly Canada Cup over three days in January.
“I live about 10 minutes away,” said Jiang in between his matches. “It’s a good venue and big enough that it doesn’t feel cramped. And the hometown support here is a plus as all my friends can come to watch.”
Fifteen tables filled the gymnasium as 128 players from across Canada competed in various levels to earn points and positioning for future national and international events. The Butterfly Canada Cup is an annual series of three table tennis events.
“By playing in one of these Canada Cup events, you can get to the next level by doing well,” said Amelia Ho, president of the BC Table Tennis Association. With good lighting and experienced volunteers, Ho said staging table tennis competitions at Fortius is ideal. “We get a lot of help from Sport Burnaby. The crew at Fortius is excellent. I am really happy and pleased how we can co-operate together to host.”
Ho added athletes and their families from across the country like coming to events in BC. “Burnaby is the right size for us. This is a great place. It’s the right spot here.”
Table tennis action will return to Burnaby this summer with an even bigger even at Fortius Sport & Health – the national championships featuring at least 350 players. That completion will select athletes to compete for Canada on the international stage.
Jiang said getting to that world stage is what drew him to the sport. “I guess I was first introduced to it when I watched the 2008 Olympics,” he said. “I like it because it’s a physical sport with an important mental component. And it’s really fast.”
But table tennis isn’t only for those aspiring to be Olympians. “Everyone can play from age four to age 100,” concluded Ho. “It’s an accessible sport for many people.”