With ball speeds in excess of 100mph and over 150 returns possible within 60 seconds, it is easy to see why table tennis merits its place at the Olympic Games.
Anyone who has ever watched a top-level table tennis match will know it is a million light-years away from the amateur to-ing and fro-ing which takes place in youth clubs and holiday camps up and down the country.
It is a sport which requires lightening reflexes and players must match the levels of speed, stamina and concentration needed by their counterparts in more popular sports.
One person who will be hoping to show the world she has what it takes to compete with the best when the London 2012 Olympic Games arrive this summer is Leamington’s Kelly Sibley.
The 23-year-old Commonwealth Games bronze medal-winner is ranked second in Britain and is one of the favourites to qualify to represent her country at the Olympic Games – a long way from where it all began.
“I started playing when I was about eight-years-old,” she said.
“I played for local club Leamington Free Church because my mum played there too – so table tennis is a bit of a family tradition!”
Sibley has spent the last year playing professionally in Spain but recently suffered a slight disruption to her preparations as she has been forced to sit out training for the past couple of weeks with a hip injury.
“Preparation was all going really well but then I hurt my hip and I have had to take a couple of weeks out to get it right,” she said.
“It hasn’t been great in terms of timing, but I haven’t missed any tournaments as a result of it. You have to make the best of the situation and it has enabled me to go over some of my old matches and focus more on the tactical side of my game.
“I am receiving the best treatment from the physiotherapists and it is important to remain positive.
“My friends and family have really helped with that and I can’t thank them enough for their support – without them it would be hard to make it through times like these.”
As she aims to qualify for her first ever Olympic Games, Kelly has moved to the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield to concentrate on her training. Another potential stumbling block was resolved when sponsors OLBG.com stepped in to cover training costs as the table tennis star struggled to finance her Olympic dream.
But now all thoughts are on London 2012 and competing in front of a home crowd with the final GB squad selection due to take place on May 14.
“We are heading to Qatar next month for the world singles qualification tournament and then we head to China from May 25 for three weeks of intensive training,” she said.
“Day-to-day training starts at 9.30am and finishes about 6pm. It includes weights, gym work and cardio.
“We don’t get many days off and sometimes you don’t know where you are! But it is what I have chosen to do because it is my dream to compete at the Olympics.
“The fact it is a home Olympics definitely makes it more special. For any athlete, competing at an Olympic Games is their dream.
“I can’t think of anything better than having that in your home country. Having that home support as well as friends and family coming to watch, it’s amazing.
“Everyone is talking about it now and it gives you a massive buzz.
“Realistically it will be difficult to medal because the Asian countries are so strong.
“We know that all people see are the matches, despite the fact we work so hard in training, so we just want to go out there, show what we can do and be able to hold our heads high.
“But you never know, anything could happen on the day!”
To keep up-to-date with the progress of all of Coventry and Warwickshire’s London 2012 Hopefuls visit www.coventry.gov.uk/team-gb-hopefuls
Picture caption: Kelly Sibley.