Some serious ping-pong is coming to the Richmond Olympic Oval after it was announced Thursday that a new National Women's Table Tennis Training Centre will be opening.
The training centre will offer Canadian female athletes of the Olympic sport the ability to develop and sharpen their game in a setting that offers 18 tables and is connected to sport training and conditioning facilities.
According to Tony Kiesenhofer, CEO of Table Tennis Canada, the oval was chosen because of its state of the art facilities and the local connections to the Chinese-Canadian Table Tennis Federation (CCTTF).
"The oval offers the ideal high performance environment for our athletes," said Kiesenhofer.
Richmond resident and defending Commonwealth women's singles champion Mo Zhang, 25, gave a brief demonstration to a large audience that included many Chinese-Canadian media outlets.
Zhang is a two-time Olympian and also won gold at the 2011 Pan American Games. She was born in Shi Jia Zhunag, China, a country that dominates the sport.
The training centre will be mostly funded by annual payments of $40,000 from the CCTTF to the oval over the next three years.
Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie attended the ceremonial opening and noted this newest contract is another example of the oval providing quality sports programs.
"The oval has had tremendous success in becoming a national home for the training of top athletes in a wide variety of summer and winter sports," said Brodie.
The training centre will also be able to host local table tennis tournaments.
Kiesenhofer said Sport Canada has cut funding to the table tennis program and its operations are mostly funded through sponsorship and donations and support from parents.