A Pietermaritzburg teenager Kiara Naidoo has been ranked second in Africa in the under 15 division in table tennis.
The Pietermaritzburg Girls’ High pupil, who is an all-round offensive player, first made headlines when she was selected to represent the continental team at the World Table Tennis Cadet Challenge in Fiji last October. Kiara had made her international debut at the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) African Junior and Cadet Championships in Tunisia, where she was featured in a team of 12 players representing the country.
In that tournament, the 15-year-old, who is part of the Maritzburg Table Tennis club, finished eighth in the cadet singles, a position that secured her a spot in the continental team.
Speaking to The Witness on Monday, the talented teen said she was very excited that she had been ranked second in the continent.
“I was shocked when I heard my ranking and I was extremely happy. I couldn’t believe it,” she said.
At the beginning of February, Kiara participated in a national tournament in Gauteng where she was ranked first in the under 15 division, second in under 18 and third for the women’s division. Kiara said when she began her table tennis career she had always set her eyes on becoming part of the continental team.
“I have always hoped that I would make the African team. It was my goal. I didn’t think it would come true because it was my first time playing internationally and the competition was very tough as well,” she said.
She scored her international debut after winning a tough match against an opponent from Mauritius.
Kiara who has been playing table tennis since primary school, said she was introduced to the sport by her family members and her curiosity for the game was piqued.
“I didn’t want to play at first but once I started I developed a passion for it. It is an honour for me to represent my country and I hope I keep the momentum.”
The rising table tennis star said she dedicates at least 20 hours of training six days a week.
“I’m also part of the athletes development programme. The programme focuses on fitness three times a week and it helps to track our improvement.”