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Next year, in addition to the traditional sporting events, Glasgow will stage the biggest ever Commonwealth Para-sport programme with the largest number of Para-sport medal events in the history of the Games.

256 medal events covering 17 sports will be competed for in Glasgow between 23 July and 3 August 2014, and within this will be 22 Para-Sport medal events covering five sports.

Among those excited for the event is 16 year old Neil Innes, who is determined to one day play for his country. He’s certainly on the right track having won bronze in the first ever Belgium Para Table Tennis Open in November this year, and also holds a bronze medal for the Paralympic pro tour Hungarian Open team event from earlier this year.

The young athlete, who plays the sport competitively and was also recently a finalist in the Scottish Disability Open in Glasgow, suffers from a condition called Talipes Equinovarus (TEV), a congenital deformity normally present at birth, in which the affected foot appears rotated internally at the ankle.

“I first started playing table tennis through Active Schools on Sunday mornings at sessions held at one of the local schools in Aberdeen. This was my first real boost into the game, and I enjoyed the sessions so much that I became determined to improve and play at a high level. 

“It’s fantastic that there is so much opportunity for people with disabilities to develop and progress in almost all sports – from table tennis to athletics to swimming to cycling – there is so much to choose from! These days I train with the table tennis academy held in Aberdeen Sports Village (ASV) whenever I can, usually up to three times a week. It’s really fantastic how available and regular the sessions facilitated by ASV are. ”

ASV’s Table Tennis Academy was launched in 2010 to help nurture talented young players in the area. Membership has hit an all-time high, with more than 20 participants in the Academy and a further 30 members of the ASV Table Tennis Club, launched for novice players. As well as Neil’s successes, the club currently boasts four boys and two girls ranked in the top 10 under 13s category in Scotland, and three boys in the top 20 and one girl in the top 10 under 15s level.

It has also been successful in gaining funding from sportscotland for a table tennis co-coordinator who will help to further develop the sport in the area and continue this success.

“ASV is so well equipped for everyone that visits, it’s the best place I have played at and has a great feeling of inclusivity, with the staff always friendly, organised and on the ball as to what is taking place and where.

“There is such a variation of clubs and opportunities available - with newcomers always made to feel welcome, but at the same time, experienced players are offered a brilliant facility to practice in.

“I also train with the Scottish Disability squad in Glasgow and am part of the British development squad, with the aim of joining the Performance squad. This would mean that the chance of playing in the Rio Paralympics might be on the cards, although this opportunity is still be a long way off - it’s my ultimate goal.

“One day I would love to play for Great Britain and give back to where I first started, providing opportunities for other children who could potentially enjoy the game as much as me.”

ASV has been playing a significant role in training up athletes since it opened in 2009 for events including last year’s Olympics, next year’s Commonwealth Games and Rio 2016. As the leading sports facility in Scotland, ASV is home to a wealth of talented and determined athletes of every ability thanks to its array of first class sporting facilities and the sense of inclusivity and community it strives to deliver to all who visit.