Sunderland youngster Josh Weatherby has been selected for table tennis’s Eurotalents programme – one of only nine players from across the continent.
The 12-year-old was chosen after an evaluation process lasting several months and encompassing training camps and the Euro Minis Championships.
Fellow English players Jamie Liu and Ruby Chan were also among a total of 427 boys and girls from around Europe who participated in the evaluation.
Monkwearmouth Academy pupil Weatherby made it through to join four other boys and four girls on the programme.
He said: “I’m really pleased to be selected. I went to the camp in Slovenia and tried to do my best to impress the coaches and I’m delighted they chose me.
“I think it will help me when I play in tournaments in Europe in the future and it will be better training with better players.”
Josh will join the other eight players, plus the 2014 Eurotalents intake, for various future training and development activities organised by the International Table Tennis Federation and European Table Tennis Union.
Simon Mills, head of coaching & performance at Table Tennis England, said: “This is a big step forward for Josh and we are delighted for him.
“With Ruby and Jamie also on the evaluation programme, the rest of Europe is beginning to take notice of the up-and-coming talent in England.
“We look forward to this being the first of many more steps forward on the international stage for our young players.”
The other programme members are: Theo Abrahamsson (Sweden), Karl Hast Karl (Sweden), Leon Santek Leon (Croatia), Maksymilian Miastowski (Poland), Danijela Karkusova (Serbia), Rebecca Muskantor (Sweden), Camelia Mitrofan (Romania) and Elena Adriana Zaharia (Romania).