Vanuatu’s Yoshua Shing is set to compete in the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) Oceania Cup despite his nation being ravaged by Cyclone Pam.
Shing, the South Pacific island’s top player, will take part in the tournament, due to begin tomorrow and conclude on Sunday (April 12) in the Australian city of Bendigo.
The disaster caused widespread devastation on the island, killing an estimated 16 people.
ITTF Africa Oceania development coordinator Michael Brown confirmed other countries in the region are offering support to Vanuatu by making donations to ensure their national team can carry on competing, which Shing has benefitted from.
“Many athletes from throughout the Oceania region have already confirmed their assistance towards Vanuatu, and many will be looking to make equipment donations to assist the national team to continue their training,” he said.
“As agreed earlier, the ITTF Oceania development programme will provide a training camp to assist Vanuatu in their preparations for the Pacific Games.”
Cyclone Pam, which struck the island last month, is considered to be one of the worst natural disasters in Vanuatu’s history.
Shing, who competed at the London 2012 Olympic Games, admitted it has put his sporting career into perspective.
“As we all know, everybody wants to win but there can only be one winner; Cyclone Pam has taught me that life is a gift from God and I'm so blessed to be alive and well,” the 21-year-old said.
“So whatever happens in matches, I'll always smile, win or lose, I'll smile because life is a gift; however, I won't go down without a fight, I will play till I reach my limit and then, I'll smile.
“Cyclone Pam has really damaged our training centre but that won't stop me from training; recently after the disaster, we've managed to clean up some space and started training again but without electricity.
“Most of my equipment was soaked in water during the disaster, my racket and shoes but thank God for the sun, I've sun dried most except for the table on which we play.”
The ITTF Oceania Cup will take place alongside the Para-Table Tennis Championships in the Australian city for the first time in history, allowing both able-bodied players and those with a disability to compete on the same tables over the three-day event.
The ITTF Oceania Para Table Tennis Championships is set to be highly competitive as it is the sole qualification event in the region for the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
April 2015: Athletes gear up for historic ITTF Oceania Para-Table Tennis Championships
March 2015:IOC and ANOC provide financial aid to help Vanuatu rebuild National Olympic Committee headquarters
October 2014: Oceania Cup to be first integrated event for able-bodied and Para-table tennis in ITTF history