Northern Ireland

Belfast teenager wins junior world table tennis title

Owen Cathcart
Image caption Owen Cathcart, 14, won the Open World Junior Circuit on Sunday

A Belfast teenager has become the first person from Northern Ireland to win a world pro-tour table tennis event.

Owen Cathcart, 14, beat off all competition at the Open World Junior Circuit on Sunday.

The event, which is run by the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF), was held Belgium.

Owen won the Cadet Boys' Singles title beating Spain's Sergi Grau at the final hurdle in a hard fought five games.

Currently listed at number 57 in the Under 15 Boys' World Rankings, the Aquinas Grammar pupil put in "an inspired performance", according to the ITTF.

Image caption Owen was filmed by BBC Newsline at a practice session in January 2015

Keith Knox, who has coached Owen at Belfast's Ormeau Table Tennis Club since he was eight years old, said that the win is likely to push him much higher up the ranking.

"For myself and his Ireland coach John Murphy, this was equivalent to Carl Frampton winning the WBA," he said.

First for Northern Ireland

"No one from Northern Ireland or Ireland has won this tournament before.

"We're a small club at The Mount, near the Short Strand - right at an interface - and kids from both communities train together here and support each other.

"He's such a hard working lad, you could put him into any sport and he'd succeed. We're just really proud of him."