A ten-year-old girl has been crowned the country’s “most promising young Jewish table tennis player” just 18 months after taking up the sport to cope with the death of her sister.
Miri Rosenberg, a pupil at Sinai Jewish Primary in north-west London, told the JC she was “surprised and shocked” when her parents, Lauren and Stuart, bought her a table for her ninth birthday, in August 2016.
Coming only three months after the passing of her sister, 20-year-old Liora, Mrs Rosenberg said she wanted to buy her daughter “something we could all enjoy as a family”.
Liora, a teaching assistant and former JFS pupil, died after suffering a bleed to the brain and pneumonia.
Her story received widespread coverage and was followed by thousands of well-wishers around the world.
A Facebook group set up to encourage others to do a mitzvah in her name was joined by almost 15,000 people, while the family’s shul, Hendon United Synagogue, held special prayer services.
Mrs Rosenberg, 48, said: “Miri was very young at the time, but table tennis instantly became her passion. I think it was something to give her a lift during a difficult time.”
Miri added that the sport is helping her to process and move on from the tragedy, saying it is as if “she is playing with me”.
After finding that she had a knack for the sport – which Mrs Rosenberg puts down to “great hand-eye coordination” – Miri then joined the table tennis club at Finchley United Synagogue.
After winning a medal at a Maccabi GB inter-synagogue competition in February, Miri now plays every night of the week at different clubs, and has been taken on by renowned coach Eli Baraty.
Despite being two years younger than some of her competitors, she reached the semi-final of the under-12 singles at Sunday’s Maccabi GB National Table Tennis Champions at London Academy in Edgware.
Her parents and sisters Judy and Adina, who cheered her on, then watched as Miri was handed the Yoram and Sylvia Katz Award for the most promising young Jewish player in the country.
Miri said her ambition is to represent Great Britain at Olympic level, and enjoy a top-level international career.
Mrs Rosenberg said: “It has all been quite a surprise – none of us are particularly sporty. But she just has this talent. We are all very proud and happy for her."