A Burnley table tennis star with her sights trained firmly on the Paralympics in Tokyo in 2020 has been given full access to Burnley Leisure's facilities at their Padiham and St Peter’s leisure centres.
As a professional athlete, Felicity Pickard (22) has received support in her sporting endeavors in the form of access to the gym, where she hopes to continue her six-day-a-week training schedule to reach her full potential.
Burnley Leisure assistant manager, Garry Stein, said: “We’re proud to support Felicity and it has been great to watch her flourish as an athlete. She is an inspiration to all of us and shows what can be achieved through hard work and dedication to training. We hope access to our facilities will help Felicity on the fast track to Olympic success.”
Born with cerebral palsy, Felicity started playing table tennis in 2010, going on to make her international debut at the Czech Open a year later and has been dominating league tables ever since, and is ranked number one in the world for under-23 at table tennis class six.
Felicity said: “I have always wanted to achieve something, and I found I could do that with table tennis. I started playing table tennis seriously after I was spotted as potential player by a disability table tennis coach during a school visit.
“I am currently training for the upcoming championships and I’m delighted that I can use the great facilities at Padiham Leisure Centre,” Felicity, who is is the national champion for class 6 - 11 and ranked number one in the UK, added.
Felicity battled with the best in the Belgian Open last year and won the competition, but unfortunately she missed out on qualification for the Rio Paralympics, but is now training hard to take part in Tokyo Paralympics 2020 and hopes to scoop the medal at the European Championship in September.
An advocate for disability sport, encouraging others to take it up, Felicity was also named the young volunteer of the year at Burnley Sports Awards in 2011 for her contribution in helping other disable people play table tennis.