Conor Edwards will be representing Wales at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow
From College to the Commonwealth Games, teenage table tennis sensation Conor Edwards is hoping to come back from Glasgow this summer with a medal around his neck.
Conor, 17, of Tonypandy, is the youngest member of the Wales table tennis squad at the 2014 Commonwealth Games after first taking up the sport as a 11-year-old as part of the Council’s E3+ programme.
Conor, who is currently juggling his training with his A-Levels this summer, said: “I cannot believe I have been selected for the Commonwealth Games – it is a dream come true.
“When I had the email confirming my selection I just sat staring at it for ages while the message sank in.”
Conor, a four-time Wales junior champion, is a sixth-form student at Tonypandy Community College and after his A-levels, he hopes to continue his studies at Cardiff Metropolitan University.
Conor aims to study sports coaching and eventually become a sports coach after being inspired by his own coach and mentor Ryan Jenkins, who is now the national coach.
Having spotted Conor’s talent and potential early on, Ryan worked with him at every opportunity, resulting in him getting a place in the Wales squad at the age of 14, representing his country all over the world.
“Table tennis is very popular at TonypandyCommunity College. I am so proud to be a part of the school and cannot thank E3+ for all they have done for me. I remember sitting at home in 2010, watching the last Commonwealth Games in Delhi and thinking to myself that if I worked hard I could be there in four years time – and I am!” said Connor.
Connor’s mother Katherine and older sisters Luci and Ashley are delighted with his Commonwealth Games call-up.
"As a family, we are all so very proud of all Conor’s achievements. He has worked so hard over the past seven years. His passion for the sport started in school, and I want to thank everyone at the Council and TonypandyCommunity College for all their support,” said Katherine.
Conor, a former pupil at Ysgol Yr Eos in Tonypandy, first took up the sport as an 11-year old when he started at TonypandyCommunity College and said he loved table tennis from the very beginning, never missing an E3+ session.
Helen O’Sullivan, Headteacher at Tonypandy Community College, said: “We are very proud of Connor, both as a student and a sportsman. His achievements are recognition for the commitment and dedication he has given to table tennis - it is well deserved.”
Meanwhile, Ryan Jenkins, along with his brother Stephen, also form part of the nine-member Wales table tennis squad.
Ryan has been competing for over 25 years and has won numerous medals for Wales along the way, including silver at the Manchester 2002 Commonwealth Games and gold at the Commonwealth Championships in Malaysia in 2004.
Stephen, also a past pupil at the then-named TonypandyComprehensiveSchool, has represented Wales at three previous Commonwealth Games, twice winning silver medals.
Cllr Robert Bevan, Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Cabinet Member for Sustainable Development, Leisure and Tourism, said: “We are very proud of our sporting talent here in Rhondda Cynon Taf and Conor’s success is a perfect example of how we recognise that talent and nurture it.
“Our dedicated Sport RCT staff work regularly with elite athletes such as Conor, Ryan and Stephen but are also there to support people of all ages and abilities who want to pursue a wide range of sports and leisure activities.”
The Council’s E3+ programme, based throughout Rhondda Cynon Taf, targets children and young people and provides them with a wide range of activities outside of school hours.
The free activities include table tennis, hockey, art, trampolining, street dance, creative crafts, sign language, netball, photography, theatrical make-up, dance, horse-riding, golf and much more.
Come along and meet the three Commonwealth Games athletes at Aberdare Festival in May 25. Stephen and Conor will be hosting table tennis taster sessions at the Council’s SportsVillage. Stephen will be one of the Queen’s Baton Relay team.
Full details on the Aberdare Festival and the Queen’s Baton Relay