Table tennis prodigy Anna became the youngest person to compete in the Commonwealth Games at a senior level in any sport.

When she first picked up a table tennis bat at the tender age of five she could barely see over the top of the table.

But fast-forward six years and she made history by becoming the youngest person ever to compete in the Commonwealth Games, at just 11 years old.

The schoolgirl from Penlan, South Wales, made the world sit up and take notice when she won her opening game at the prestigious competition on Australia’s Gold Coast in April.

She was finally knocked out in the quarter-finals by a player 16 years her senior but by then she had already created a storm on the international stage.

Anna, now 12, was just five when she took up the sport after discovering a talent for it on a holiday in her mum’s native China. She started training at a local leisure centre when she got back and, by the age of six, was the Welsh Under-11 champion.

Though her parents, Larry, 55, and Xiuli, 48, knew she had a flair for the game, it was when she was praised by one of the world’s best players, Zhang Yining, that it truly hit home that their daughter was a rising star.

Recalling the proud moment, dad Larry says: “It’s been a gradual process, but I felt she may do really well when one of the greatest players ever was speaking to me about Anna and saying how talented she was. “That was very encouraging!”

In March 2017, Anna, then 10, became the youngest player to represent Wales’s senior table tennis team in a European Championship, winning 3-0.

And that Christmas, the family received a special present when they got a phone call from the head coach saying she had qualified for the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

While her parents were “apprehensive” about how she would deal with playing at such a big tournament, Anna took it in her stride.

She says: “I don’t normally get nervous. I know I am so young and will have lots of chances.”

Anna is currently ranked eighth in Europe and eighteenth in the World in the under-15 category. She trains up to 22 hours a week on a special table tennis unit which has been built in her garden at home and has her sights set on Olympic glory.

Welsh coach Stephen Jenkins says: “She is actually really mature for her age. It’s just inside her – she’s mentally strong.”

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