Colin Judge, Para National Senior Champion and irish international joins Table Tennis Ireland web team as a guest blogger over the coming season – see below for his 1st blog.

Hi! My name is Colin Judge and I’m an Irish para table tennis player. I started playing table tennis at the age of 14 in UCD and I loved the game from my first day. I had tried out a number of sports when I was younger but when I first played table tennis I knew straight away that it was going to be a sport not only that I thoroughly enjoyed but one that I could compete in. I will never forget the days I spent training in UCD and Blackrock and will be forever grateful to my coach back then, Richie Butler, for what he contributed to my game. It was during these days that I learnt the basics of the game, those training sessions were the building blocks for what I would achieve in the coming years and for anything that I might achieve in the future.

However, I played in a number of able-bodied competitions during those years and soon realised that if I ever wanted to compete at the top level it would have to be against people with a similar disability to me. I was born with no legs and one arm and I compete in class 2 in para table tennis. I started playing in the Irish Wheelchair Association in January 2012 and I noticed an improvement in my game immediately as I was now playing at a level closer to my own. In June 2012, I began to compete internationally.

 I have been to four competitions in the last year. I went to Belgium last October, Hungary in March and Romania and Spain in June. I have won two bronze medals in these competitions and I hope that over the next year I can add a few more to my collection! It is my dream to qualify for the Paralympics and I know that this dream will not come true without a lot of hard work.

I am writing this in September during my first week back at college. I study Actuary at UCD and I am now in second year. I go to lectures during the day and try to study/swim on the in between. Then I normally train in the evening times, playing in Dundrum Table Tennis Club on a Monday and a Saturday and in Irish Wheelchair Association on a Wednesday. I play in Blackrock College most weeks now and will play for UCD this year as well. I go to an intensive weekend training camp once a month in IWA and plan to train 1:1 with John Murphy and Mick Cunningham over the next year.

I am currently playing in the Autumn League in Dundrum Table Tennis Club in Division 1 as my coach, Tibor Pofok is away with one of my teammates, Rena McCarron Rooney, at the World Para Table Tennis Championships in Beijing and our training is not on. I have been following this event very closely on the live stream and it is during weeks like these that I am reminded of what can be achieved. I would love to be a part of it all some day. I hope that people will be watching me on the live stream the next time!

I am playing as much as I possibly can at the moment in order to prepare myself for France. I will go to the French Open on the 22nd of October and I really hope that I can perform to the best of my ability as it will be my last competition of the year. I would love to end 2014 on a high and then build on my success going into 2015.

Next time I will be talking about how I got on at the French Open and a little bit more about my training/preparation for 2015.  I hope that I will have some good news the next time I blog!

If you have any questions for me feel free to leave a comment at the end of this page and I will respond to your questions on my next blog. Thank you very much for reading. Until next time!