Sarah Storey’s historic Paralympic exploits catapult Craig Allen to a touching hometown of the Commonwealth Games.
Para table tennis ace Allen of Bromsgrove immersed himself in Tokyo 2020 as cycling star Storey won 15th, 16th and 17th gold medals to usurp Mike Kenny’s long-standing British record .
Allen, 26, is one of his sport’s most promising para-circuit prospects and is aiming for the England team’s long-awaited home debut in Birmingham 2022.
He loves watching Storey, Kadeena Cox and Jaco van Gass win thrilling gold medals and hopes that being inspired by pedaling, not ping pong, can propel him to the big moment.
Allen, who grew up training at the Arrow Vale Table Tennis Club, said: “In terms of what British cyclists have accomplished in Tokyo, it’s huge and really impressive.
“The stars of ParalympicsGB have managed to take over from Team GB’s success in sport – they just took that baton and ran with it, which really inspired me to watch as a para-sport athlete .
“It was really impressive to watch – I enjoyed the highlights in and around my training and saw as much as I could.
“The main focus for me is still the Commonwealth Games next year – I would consider the Paralympic Games, but I’m still thinking about a few years.
“It would be really special to be at the Commonwealth Games – like the London 2012 scenario, it doesn’t happen that often the Games are at home. It could happen in the UK again, but the chances of it happening in my hometown are not that high so this is actually a once in a lifetime opportunity.
“It would be amazing if that happened and it would mean a lot to have my family there and represent my country on the big stage.”
Allen’s career on the table is fueled by an innovative partnership between Entain – owner of Ladbrokes and Coral – and leading sports charity SportsAid.
The Midlands star is a long-term recipient of the funding and put it to good use as he racked up international medals in Mexico, Romania and Spain.
As an extension of our partnership with The Trident Leagues, we are delighted to announce that we will be supporting 51 young athletes through our @TeamSportsAid Partnership!
Find out everything here 📲https: //t.co/1lNX0OFZgC
– Launch (@PitchingIn_) September 23, 2020
He is set to participate in his first overseas tournament since the pandemic next month when he travels to Spain to kick off the real road to next year’s Commonwealth Games.
Allen hit the table hard against able-bodied players this summer and insists he couldn’t get any better at his game until a pivotal 12-month period.
He added: “I play really well – when I see people that I haven’t seen that often, they say I’m playing particularly well.
“I play much higher ranked players than me in able-bodied table tennis and I am able to challenge and beat them – so that really helps.
“Initially, it’s about getting to the Commonwealth Games first. Once there, I set medal goals for myself and thought about what I could accomplish.
Entain, owner of Ladbrokes and Coral, is proud to champion the next generation of British sports heroes by providing talented young athletes with financial support and personal development opportunities in partnership with SportsAid. Visit entaingroup.com to know more.