Leamington table tennis star Kelly Sibley is preparing for two big challenges – on and off the table.
The 2014 Commonwealth Games bronze medallist leads the England women’s team into the European Championships which start in Russia today, with promotion the target.
She will then tackle the Great Birmingham Run on October 18, raising money for Cancer Research, having been inspired by her niece, who is fighting leukaemia.
Table tennis preparations have been first and foremost for the 27-year-old, who has been training alongside team-mates Lois Peake, Karina Le Fevre and Maria Tsaptsinos before leaving for Ekaterinburg.
England will play in the second tier – the Challenge Division – and will face Greece, Belgium and Finland in the group stage as they begin their campaign for promotion to the Championship Division.
Sibley said: “It’s starting to come together and I’m looking forward to it. I’ve been doing pre-season training at the University of Nottingham and doing some sessions in the gym.”
“There are some strong teams in that division and we’re going to have to play our best table tennis to get promotion.
“We lost to Greece at the last European Championships and obviously we’ll be looking to get revenge against them.
“Any of the teams at that level can beat anybody but if we put in some good performances and stay focused then we can be fighting for that promotion place.”
After returning from Russia, the half-marathon Great Birmingham Run looms on the horizon.
She will again be part of RunTeamFlo, a group of eight runners raising money for Cancer Research UK. The team was launched last year after Sibley’s four-year-old niece Flo was diagnosed with leukaemia. The aim was to raise £2,500 but the amount donated through Justgiving.com now stands at an amazing £23,700.
“It’s just overwhelming that people are sending their money,” said Sibley. “We set a target of £2,500 last year which I thought was a bit much, but we smashed it and it just kept going and going and going.”
Sibley is also entered into next year’s London Marathon for the same cause and she added: “No one else is brave enough or silly enough to run that with me - but I don’t even want to think about it yet.”
To donate to RunTeamFlo, visit www.justgiving.com/RunTeamFlo/