Cardiff table tennis star Dan Mead rounded off his season with a career highlight representing Great Britain at the Polish Para Open – and now can’t wait to cheer on his new teammates at the Paris Paralympic Games.
Mead, 14, has enjoyed a rapid rise to the top and was selected for the GB and Wales squads in May and June.
The young talent is targeting a Paralympic debut in 2028 and will gain further inspiration from the Games next year, where his idols will take to the South Paris Arena stage.
SportsAid was delighted to bring together over 40 talented young athletes, along with their parents and guardians, for a very special summer event at @RBC’s Bishopsgate offices in London this afternoon!#SportsAidLive acted as the perfect opportunity for… pic.twitter.com/dcHXo5ExSq
— SportsAid (@TeamSportsAid) August 10, 2023
“I was selected to represent GB in the Poland Para Open towards the end of May and in June I was selected to play for Wales in the senior squad,” said Mead, who has been selected to be part of Aldi’s Rising Stars programme, an initiative with SportsAid that provides talented young athletes with financial support, recognition and personal development opportunities.
“Poland was my first one, I kept my expectations in check but I did win a set and I was proud of that, my coach said that I did well overall and I felt happy.
“It meant a lot to me and it really boosted my confidence.
“I always try and stay ambitious so looking forward to future years LA 2028 would be fantastic if I keep working hard at it.
“I’m looking forward to the whole of Paris 2024 and the table tennis more than anything else.
“I know a few people who will probably go - I've got a few people who I’ll definitely be rooting for and want to do well and I'm sure they will.”
Will Bayley and Paul Karabardak are just a couple of esteemed athletes the Welsh teenager takes inspiration from as he looks to take his own game to the next level.
Mead, who is part of Aldi’s Rising Stars programme in partnership with SportsAid, stood alongside 2016 Rugby Sevens Olympian Dan Cross to open a new Aldi store in Porthcawl last month.
Athletes on the programme receive funding to help towards costs such as travel, accommodation, equipment and nutrition, with Aldi also delivering workshop sessions on a range of topics to help nurture athletes for their sporting endeavours and beyond.
Mead added: “I do look around at everything the athletes do and take everything I can out of it.
“How they teach themselves, better themselves and improve and their attitude towards everything.
“It was a great boost to be asked to open the new Aldi in Porthcawl; it was a great day and experience.
“There were a lot of happy faces going around to see Sam Cross who is also another play to look to and take inspiration from.
“It’s fantastic and with everything I do it does give me that bit of extra motivation, for people outside of my family and coaches who have that important bit of belief in me.
“I really do want to repay everyone at SportsAid and Aldi for investing in me achieving my goals.”
Aldi is the Official Supermarket Partner of Team GB and ParalympicsGB and have partnered with Team GB since 2015, ParalympicsGB since 2022 and will be supporting them through to Paris 2024.