Rajan setting his sights on table tennis triumph in Rio

January 30 2014

A HORFIELD athlete has his sights set on joining the British table tennis Paralympic squad to compete in Rio 2016.

A HORFIELD athlete has his sights set on joining the British table tennis Paralympic squad to compete in Rio 2016.
However, in order for 27-year-old Rajan Waterman to be selected for the team, he needs to secure enough funding to compete in international tournaments. Competing internationally will help Rajan gain points on the world ranking list.
He needs to be ranked in the top 16 players for his category to automatically qualify for Rio.
Rajan started playing table tennis for fun at the age of 11 with his father.
By 14, he began training several times a week with Harry Venner, an English international who coached the Australian Olympic team.
Three years later, Rajan was involved in a car accident, which crushed his hand, leaving him with two fingers and a thumb.
But the accident did not stop him from pursuing his passion for playing table tennis. Five years after the accident, Rajan joined the Bristol table tennis academy, training five days a week.
He straps the bat to his hand, using Velcro for extra help when gripping the bat.
He has been competing seriously for four years.
Rajan said: "My inspiration was most definitely my father as he was a competitive table tennis player - like father, like son I guess.
"He also took me to watch some high level players at a county tournament and I was amazed at the speed and grace they moved with, so that was really inspirational."
He added: "My coach Choi Sze To at Bristol Table Tennis Academy has also really changed my life for the better, with her positivity and kindness - a truly amazing woman, although I wish she wouldn't push me so hard sometimes!"
Rajan has won numerous medals at the Michael Hawkesworth championships - a national competition for Paralympic athletes.
Last year, he achieved bronze in the men's open - the athlete who came second was a silver medallist in the London 2012 Paralympic games.
He recently won six events in Disability Grand Prix tournaments in Liverpool and Slough. He beat six international Great Britain players along the way.
Rajan is currently ranked number one in Great Britain for class 9 - a category for players with mild impairments of playing arm.
He trains at Bristol Table Tennis Academy, as part of SGS College, five days a week - some days twice a day.
Eighteen hours are spent on the table each week, and he fits in gym sessions around his training programme. Most weekends are spent competing in tournaments.
He said: "I have beaten the GB International world ranked number 24 on the last four occasions I have played him, so I truly believe at this moment my standard of play is within the top 15 in the world.
"If I can get funding to enter international competitions and prove to the British Table Tennis Association and UK Sport that I deserve to be on the World Class Funding Programme then I whole heartedly know that I am capable of achieving a qualifying spot for Rio and pushing for a medal position."
Over the next two years, Rajan will need to train five hours a day, five days a week in order to be a the right level to compete for medals.

 Rajan Waterman