Hursey seeks to strengthen Olympic selection bid

Anna Hursey as steadily improved her world ranking to make it into the top 100
Anna Hursey has steadily improved her world ranking to make it into the top 100 [Getty Images]

Anna Hursey will look to strengthen her case for Olympic Games selection this week at the Saudi Smash 2024, which runs from 1-5 May.

The 17-year-old Wales and British number one female player broke into the world’s top 100 earlier this year and is currently ranked 97.

Hursey will bid to improve that in Jeddah on Wednesday, where world ranking points and a record £1.6m in prize money is on offer.

“It was a nice surprise when I broke into the top 100, but I am still trying to get my ranking as high as possible,” said Hursey.

“For me, the Olympics is possible. I am playing in a lot of competitions and I am training really hard, but I’m also just trying to enjoy the process and not think so much about the outcome.

“It would be a dream to qualify and if I keep improving then I think I’ve got a really good chance.”

Hursey could convince the GB selectors she is worthy of entry for the Paris Olympics women’s singles event if she takes her world ranking to around the 80-mark, although they may opt to pick her anyway even if she remains in the 90s.

Having moved rapidly from a position of 163 last summer, Hursey is considered to have shown huge potential at world level.

The Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games bronze medallist did have another route to Paris in the mixed doubles, when she was paired with British men’s number one Liam Pitchford.

But that path depended purely on tournament qualification, rather than selection, and it ended when Pitchford withdrew with a shoulder injury ahead of the qualifying tournament in the Czech Republic three weeks ago.

“For me, the singles route to the Olympics was always more realistic,” added Hursey.

“Although Liam is a fantastic player and ranked 30 in the world in singles, we were a new partnership and we were still trying to work out some new systems.

“The singles was always the most likely way for me to get to the Olympics this year.”

Before preparing for the tournament in Saudi Arabia, Hursey retained her women’s singles title at the Welsh National Championships in Cardiff at the start of April.

She beat her Team Wales Commonwealth Games doubles partner, Charlotte Carey, in the final.