Olympics hopeful Facey Thompson, 16, wins Canary Wharf top sports title

A schoolboy partially paralysed in his right arm who can only play table tennis with his left hand—and still be good enough to play for Britain in the summer Paralympic Games—took Canary Wharf by storm when he won its ‘Sports Personality of the Year’ title.

Ashley Facey Thompson, a 16-year-old from Bethnal Green’s Morpeth Secondary, is ranked No 1 disabled table tennis player in the country.

He won the ‘Individual Achievement’ award at last night’s ceremony at the East Wintergarden—then went on to take the top ‘Sports Personality of the Year’ title.

Past winners include aspiring Olympic athlete Perri Shakes-Drayton and young tennis prodigy Lucas Taylor.

Among East London VIPs at the ceremony were Olympic champ Christine Ohuruogu, West Ham United’s Joey O’Brien and TV celebrity builder Tommy Walsh.

‘Senior Team of the Year’ title went to Ralph Humphries and Bob Milligan from Poplar Rowing Club, unbeaten last year in all international and home master rowing competitions, winning the World Masters in Poland, the Britain Masters and the Henley Masters titles.

‘Group Achievement’ award went to Newark Youth London organisation, which recruited 200 youngsters across the East End, setting up a women’s exercise group on Stepney’s Exmouth Estate, two girls’ youth clubs, an under-10s and an under 14s football teams.

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‘Junior Team of the Year’ was Leyton’s Westward Boys Under-13 B football team which won the London and Essex County Cups.

Canary Wharf Group’s Mimi Tran said: “In just a few months we’ll have the world’s largest sporting event surrounding us.

“There is no doubt the East End has some of the world’s best sporting talent—it’s just a matter of nurturing it.”

Nowhere is that more apparent than with Ashley Facey Thompson, who took both gold and silver at the 2009 National Disability table tennis championships at just 14. That put him in Team GB’s main Squad for the 2012 Paralympics. He went on to led Great Britain to gold medals at both the Italian and German Opens.

The young athlete, who has Erbs Palsy, a paralysis of his right arm, is coached by Grant Solder at Morpeth School. It is a good time in the East End to be playing table tennis with the Olympics on our doorstep, Grant believes.

Morpeth is hosting the British and Japanese teams ahead of the Games—thanks to its state-of-the-art ping-pong facility now the envy of schools up and down the country.

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