Table tennis 'saved me'

Darius Knight

Table tennis prodigy Darius Knight says the sport has saved him from the get-rich-quick attitude that made many of his friends turn to crime.

This article was part of a special report on the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics. It was archived in July 2013 and will no longer be reviewed.

 

The south Londoner is the rising star of British table tennis. He is a three-time British under-21 national champion and European youth champion, and has made the sport appeal to youngsters coming up behind.

Darius's talent and background have made him the perfect figurehead for the Fred Perry Urban Cup, which promotes table tennis in inner cities.

Table tennis club membership numbers have been falling since the late 1970s, but it’s hoped initiatives like the Urban Cup will reverse the trend.

In the competition, set up by the English Table Tennis Association and clothing brand Fred Perry, players from eight cities compete in a tournament in London.

“Table tennis is like my baby,” says Darius. “It was my saviour, giving me a new direction from a young age. I was fortunate.”

New direction

As a child, Darius lived on a council estate in Lambeth, south London. He spent much of his time with a gang of 15 boys. Darius found that table tennis gave him a purpose, while many of his friends went in the wrong direction, getting involved in crime.

"They wanted the quickest way of getting what they wanted and sometimes that meant doing negative things," says Darius. "That was why I got into table tennis. It opened a lot of gates and has made my life easier.

“I was always pretty good at sport, but with table tennis I started off at the bottom. I was taunted by other players who had better skills than me, so I was determined to be the best.

"I was fascinated by the game. It requires speed, reflexes, technique and strategy. Anyone can play but when you take it to a higher level, it’s very technical. For me, it’s like one fast and furious chess game.”

Explosive style

Darius’s training started in a shed in Wandsworth, but he soon caught the attention of the table tennis authorities.

He now trains at the prestigious English Institute of Sport Sheffield, where he has gone from strength to strength.

His explosive style and athleticism have turned him into a star attraction at tournaments in Britain and abroad.

Darius aims to build on his national and European youth titles by making his mark as a senior player.

He says: "I'd like to become a top-class table tennis coach and give something back, especially in London. Being able to win at the highest level for your country is the best thing ever."

Find out more about table tennis on the English Table Tennis Association website.

Page last reviewed: 02/07/2013

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The 2 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

adamiak1982 said on 15 April 2010

Great reading. I currently use table tennis almost daily with people i work with in the mental health setting and find its very popular, i didnt know off darius before but will now be looking out for him at the olympics.

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Freddie said on 19 August 2008

Great going Darius!
Good to read something positive about young people from inner City London. Hope you realise your Olympic hopes and goals. Well done.

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