She may only be 12 years old, but Ayumi Moriyama-Picard is already a force to be reckoned with in the sport of table tennis.
The Year 7 prodigy, who was awarded the John Patterson Memorial Trophy for the Most Improved Player in the Auckland region for 2022, recently won a staggering five national table tennis titles across three different age groups.
In the Under 13’s division, Ayumi achieved a hat-trick of titles – Girl’s Singles, Girl’s Doubles and Mixed Doubles. She followed these with gold medal finishes in the Under 15 Girl’s Doubles and in the Under 19 team’s event, where she represented Auckland. Other outstanding results included a silver in the Under 15 Girls’ Singles and a bronze in the Under 21 Women’s Singles.
“I am most proud of the Under 13 Girl’s Singles title because singles are the most important events,” says Ayumi. “More players enter the singles competition, and your results in these matches also affect your rating points, which affect your national ranking and team selections.”
When the 2022 Table Tennis New Zealand National Rankings were released in November (produced by national selectors for Under 15 grades and above), Ayumi was recognised as number one for Under 15 Girls, number four for Under 19 Girls and number five for Open Women, despite her comparative youth.
A plethora of other accolades also contributed to these impressive rankings, including placings at the North Island Championships, Auckland Open, Auckland Junior Open and the North Shore Open.
“Winning the Under 13 Girl’s Singles and Doubles, as well as the Under 15 Girl’s Doubles at the Auckland Open Championships, are the results I am most proud of,” explains Ayumi.
“This is the biggest event for the Auckland region, and with Auckland being the strongest region in New Zealand for table tennis, the competition is always very hard.”
And after such an incredibly successful year showcasing her growth and increasing abilities, receiving the ACG Parnell Junior Sportswoman of the Year trophy last week was the perfect way to wrap up 2022 on a positive note.
However, despite these impressive rankings and accomplishments, Ayumi is still in the early stages of her career, having only been introduced to the sport three years ago. Yet she relishes the challenges she faces competing in the older age groups.
“Playing against older opponents certainly brings me a whole new set of challenges because the players are more experienced than I am, but at the same time, I feel less pressure. There is less expectation on me to do well, which allows me to play my more natural game.”
“I am constantly learning as well and have a lot to work on to reach my goals of representing New Zealand in bigger events against other countries – consistency, technique and strategy are my main areas of focus currently.”
Having represented New Zealand this year at the Oceania Table Tennis Federation’s Hopes (Under 12) and Challenge Week - featuring representatives from Australia, Tonga and Tahiti - there is no doubt this talented athlete is on the right path to reaching her dreams.
“In the near future, I am aiming to attend the Oceania Table Tennis Championships. This event only starts at the Under 15 level, so it will not be easy. In the longer term, it would be great to compete at the 2026 Youth Olympic Games in Senegal.”
Article kindly written by Steph Trowill.