By Oliver Lees
Sunbury table tennis star Trevor Hirth has qualified for the Paralympic Games, which is set to be held in Tokyo later this year.
Currently the number one ranked male player in his class in Oceania, the 37-year-old said it will be his first time representing Australia at the Paralympic Games.
“I want it to happen tomorrow,” Hirth said.
“For me it’s about representing the country, achieving my dream.
“For some time international competition has been on hold so I can’t wait to compete again.”
Classification is used in Paralympic sport to group athletes with similar impairments to compete against one another.
Within this system, Hirth is in class 6, which he said makes the competition unique.
“My category is the most severe for standing athletes, so having players with limited movement, it’s really important to capitalise and finish the point early,” he said.
“There are amazing players in my division, some with one arm, one leg, it’s a huge amount of diversity.”
Hirth was introduced to table tennis as a child, playing on a makeshift table his grandfather had built and set up in the carport of his family home.
He now plays across the western suburbs, including for the Sunbury Table Tennis Association, who in the past has helped Hirth to compete by raising funds for competition entry fees and flights.
Sunbury Table Tennis Association president Michael Delaveris said the club was “very proud” of Hirth.
“We’re very proud of Trevor and his achievements,” he said.
“He needed a fair bit [of money to compete] and ours was only a small portion, but it all came together for him which is great.”
Although he wasn’t introduced to the idea of representing Australia as a para athlete until he was 29-years-old, Hirth said he had first felt he was skilled with the bat when he was in high school.
“I realised I could go alright at school camp, because I beat everyone,” he said.
“Then my parents really encouraged me to compete.”
Hirth is now ranked 35th in the world and has represented Australia in three world championships.
He said the stature of the Paralympic Games has grown with increased media attention.
“There’s a lot more of a feeling today about improving the lives of people with disabilities, it’s a movement,” he said.
“I only got discovered at 29, I feel like there might be a lot of people with disabilities with undiscovered talent.
“Every athlete has that responsibility, to look around and see what you can do to make your community better.”
Hirth will represent Sunbury in the Victorian Country Championships on Queen’s Birthday Weekend at the Melbourne Sports Centres (MSAC).
The Paralympic Games in Tokyo are scheduled to begin on August 24.