Heshan Weerasinghe - Table Tennis
I began playing table tennis when I was 6 years old, whilst I was at school in Sri Lanka. A year later, I was in England and rising through the national rankings by playing in competitions. I rose to number 1 in my age category at 11 years old, and made my England debut a year later. I won national championships at every age category (Under-11, Under 13, Under-15, Under-18, and Under-21), and continued to represent England in major championships at youth level, winning 14 medals on the international circuit. After finishing high school, I left England to live in Sweden to train full-time and played semi-professionally for a Swedish club. During this time, I made my senior debut for the national team, winning silver at the Commonwealth Championships in India. After 2 years in Sweden, I came back to England to begin my studies in Economics and Business at UCL in September 2017.
My Greatest achievements to date:
Commonwealth Championships silver medal, India, 2015.
National Champion at every major age group.
Winning my first international competition – Portugal Open, 2014.
Being ranked top 10 in Europe at Cadet level.
For me, life at UCL has just been a continuation of what I’ve been doing my whole life – balancing studies with sport. I had come to study at UCL after two years of playing full-time in Sweden, so the first weeks were a tough adjustment back into a learning environment – I just did not feel like studying! Studying at UCL has been a positive experience so far – London is obviously full of life and being given the opportunity to study here is a unique one.
The Games will be a unique experience. I’ve played the UK School Games several times in the past, but this multi-sporting, global event will be like no other. I’m especially looking forward to the opening ceremony, to meeting athletes from different sports across different countries, and of course to competing against some familiar faces in the competition arena.
The Elite Athlete Programme has given me free gym membership, which I have used often over the past two years. A massive help from the programme has been the financial aspect – I get full support when I am playing international events, including covering the costs of playing the World University Games. Just as importantly, the staff provide a lot of individual support – they do a good job of keeping in touch to see how you’re doing with studies and training among other things.