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New Brunswick athlete called up to play for Team Canada

What started as a fun activity during a Florida vacation, has turned into something much bigger for 12-year-old Oliver Woodworth.

The young athlete is an avid table tennis player.

“Whenever we’re not training here, we’re training at home for like an hour a day,” said Woodworth.

“So an hour at home, two hours, I’d say around 7 hours a week… or 10.”

The youth is a part of the Greater Moncton Table Tennis Club (, which trains Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings at The Moncton Coliseum.

With his skills and drive, he’s already making a name for himself. Woodworth has made the U13 Table Tennis Canada National Team. (

“It means quite a bit because it’s been, I don’t know, 40 some years, 30 some years that anyone’s represented Team Canada from New Brunswick, so it feels good that I’m one of the first ones in a while that’s been on Team Canada,” he said.

More specifically, it’s been 49 years since a New Brunswick athlete made the team, and the last player who did is the president at Woodworth’s club, Ingrid McPhee.

“It’s just it’s a passion in the same way it’s a passion with Oliver,” said McPhee.

“I eat, breathe, sleep table tennis and it’s just so nice to finally see New Brunswick grow and start entering the national level again.”

She started playing in 1972 after her dad brought home a table as a winter activity and he quickly noticed her hand-eye coordination.

In 1974, she was selected to be part of the Table Tennis Canada National Team. It’s an accomplishment she is proud to share with Woodworth today.

“I’m so happy to be able to share it and I just hope that we’re going to have more young juniors who are going to be able to grow and just continue taking that title away,” she said.

Right now, McPhee holds multiple champion titles.

She is currently the New Brunswick Women’s Champion and the New Brunswick Mixed Champion with her partner from Saint John and while she plans to keep both those titles for a few years, she is also vying to win the Atlantic Seniors Champion next year.

To this day, she says she loves the game just as much.

“It’s a fantastic sport for all age categories,” she said.

“For seniors as myself, it’s excellent for hand eye coordination, for balance, for reflexes. It’s great cardiovascular, you can play as hard as you want or as soft as you want. It’s a very social sport.”

She adds that the Greater Moncton Table Tennis Club has members as young as seven-years-old and players who are in their 60’s.

It offers both recreational play and high-elite training for junior players.

“It’s definitely growing. It’s one of the sports that is the most played worldwide, so therefore it’s a great sport for immigrants, new comers who are coming to Moncton,” she said.

Currently, the Moncton Coliseum has 10 tables set up for practices, but McPhee says there’s often a waitlist and the hope is to continue to grow the sport even bigger in the city.

On top of weekly training, The Greater Moncton Table Tennis Club is preparing to host the Atlantic Championships tournament in 2024 and McPhee says they’re also putting a bid for the National Seniors Championship for 2025.

As for Woodworth, he’s already got his sights set on what his future might hold.

“I’m hoping some day I’ll make the Olympic team and go play for the Olympics,” he said.

“That’s my biggest hope.”

To date, he’s only been playing competitively for two years, but he says he’s already taken part in 25-30 competitions.

While he often plays against his brother, Harrison, who is aiming for the U15 National Team for next year, Woodworth says he’s ready to take on any new opponents who are interested in the sport.

“It just would suck for other people not to experience it because it’s such a fun thing and the people surrounding table tennis, they’re all super nice and super fun to be around and it’s just a super fun sport,” he said.

“People don’t understand how big of a sport it can be if you try to get into it.”

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