Table tennis star and climate advocate Anna Hursey is ready to light up the Commonwealth Games
EXCLUSIVE: At just 16, Anna Hursey worked with the UN and helped President Biden tackle the climate crisis… now the table tennis star is ready to light up the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham – just weeks later have completed their GCSEs
- Anna Hursey is the youngest athlete in Commonwealth Games history
- She took part in table tennis on the Gold Coast in 2018 aged just 11
- Now 16, Hursey is determined to ‘try and medal’ for Wales in Birmingham
- She is also a strong advocate for climate change and has worked with the UN
She competed in the Commonwealth Games, worked with the United Nations and was approached by the White House – all at the age of 16. It’s no wonder Anna Hursey is now planning to take over the world.
“I hope to be world No 1 and win the Olympics,” the Welsh teenage table tennis sensation told Sportsmail. “So maybe one day I’ll get into politics.
Hursey’s next stop is Birmingham 2022, where she will compete just weeks after completing her GCSEs. Even that, however, makes her a relative veteran given that she made her first Commonwealth Games appearance at the age of 11.
Anna Hursey was the youngest athlete in Commonwealth Games history in 2018
Her appearance at Gold Coast 2018 made her the youngest athlete in Games history and also the youngest to represent Wales at senior level in any sport. Unsurprisingly, it also garnered plenty of media attention, not that the Cardiff schoolgirl was fazed.
“There were lots of interviews but it was pretty cool because I had my own bodyguard!” smiles Hursey, who appears on a giant poster outside the Bullring shopping center in Birmingham.
“I was very young but I loved being there and it was a great experience. I don’t know if I’m a completely different person now, but I know I’ve matured a lot.
Such maturity is perhaps why Hursey has been courted by some of the most powerful political bodies in the world. At the age of 13, this passionate environmentalist was invited to become a United Nations “young champion” for climate change.
Last year, 14-year-old Wales’ response to Greta Thunberg was emailed by the US Embassy asking her to help President Joe Biden’s bid to tackle the climate crisis.
“It was very surprising to get an email,” says Hursey, whose interest in climate change began due to her struggle with asthma. ‘They said, ‘We’ve seen everything you do, we’d really like to be involved with you.
“I had a meeting with them last year in lockdown. We are trying to figure out what I can do for them in the future. I hope to be able to make a few speeches.
Away from sports, Hursey is passionate about climate change and admires Greta Thunberg
“Greta Thunberg has done a lot and she is very passionate and I admire her. I will continue to study climate change and see what I can do.
Over the next few days, however, Hursey will focus on her duties as an athlete, not an activist as she seeks to medal for Wales.
At the Gold Coast, she failed to emerge from the singles group stage with a win and a loss. In the team event, Hursey won two of her doubles matches to help Wales reach the quarter-finals, where they lost to hosts Australia.
“The singles will be of a very high level but I know that I have improved a lot,” she adds. “In the squad this time, Wales are much stronger. We will try to win a medal. I’m really excited.’
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