Rio beckons for Widnes table tennis ace

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Jack will be heading to Rio this September © Warren Millar photography

Jack will be heading to Rio this September © Warren Millar photography

A table tennis player from Widnes is heading to the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Paralympic Games as part of Team GB.

Born in Liverpool and trained in Widnes, Jack Hunter-Spivey, 20, is currently ranked number two in the world in the under-23 year old category and number six in the senior rankings, and is currently the British champion for the third year running.

Jack, who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at the age of 17 months, was born blind and deaf until he started to see and hear nine months later.

He recently contributed to team GB by winning two medals on the last day of the Lignano Master Open in Italy, collecting silver in the team event and bronze in the singles.

This will be the first Paralympics for the 20-year-old player after just missing out on selection for London 2012.

Speaking to JMU Journalism, he said: “Opportunities like this won’t just get handed to you on a plate. It’s a huge opportunity to get there because it is a massive achievement. Missing out on selection for London has made me push myself even further.”

Jack has received numerous accolades, including winning a gold medal last year in the Slovakia Open, but he lost in the quarter-finals of the European championships.

He said: “The first half of last season was disappointing for me, but the second half was much better. It was a massive relief to qualify for Rio.”

Jack has never let his disability hinder him in his professional career, telling JMU Journalism: “My biggest advice for other aspiring athletes is that nothing is impossible if you can dream it, it can be achieved no matter the barriers that are in the way. Never give up on what you want to be.”

About Ben Cummings, JMU Journalism