Sunderland table tennis player Dave Robson is England’s number one – after winning a battle with cancer.
The 53-year-old fought off a neck tumour four years ago, and then threw his full efforts into his sport.
And it culminated with his victory in the National Veterans Championships in Wolverhampton.
He is now the top ranked player in the country and will represent England in the Six Nations event in September.
“It was always my goal to reach the top,” said Robson, who lives in Seaburn.
“I’m delighted to win it and most of all proud to have come back stronger than ever from a difficult time in my life, health-wise.
“The diagnosis was four years ago following a Northumberland Closed singles title win.
“Then I was quickly admitted for neck dissection and radiotherapy. I’ve been given the all-clear, but now have six-month checks.”
The VETTS National Table Tennis Championships is the final and most important event in the calendar, with over 300 entrants, including the top players from around the country.
Robson went into the championships as the number three seed in the men’s singles and had a tough draw, facing the fourth and sixth seeds in the quarter and semi-finals respectively.
But over the whole competition, he lost only one end.
In the final, he saw off the number five seed 3-0.
“This year, I trained the hardest ever to try and achieve the number one spot in the veterans national ranking list,” added Dave.
“It seemed a difficult task, given my initial ranking was around the 15 mark – but the season has been kind to me with six finals reached in the National Masters competitions and I won three of them.
“I always wanted to reach the top, which I did in the 2014/15 season when I played for England and won the Veterans Six Nations men’s singles event, giving me the momentum to push on towards the main goal.
“To win the National Championship title this season has given me the number one spot, but it has also been a massive emotional achievement.
“Hard work and of course pure dedication are the main tools.
“My thoughts are now on training for the Six Nations in September and the forthcoming season – hopefully retaining the title!”