Table tennis star Kelly wins gold

Kelly Sibley led England to a gold medal at the World Table Tennis Team championships in China this week.

The 19-year-old made history in Guangzhou as the England women took the Division Two title for the first time - the finest achievement of her career to date - in the country that gave birth to the sport.

England were not even expected to qualify from their group at the championships, but Sibley, doubles partner Joanna Parker, 20, and 16-year-old Emma Vickers confounded all expectations to win the title.

It earns them a tilt at the world's very best players - all from China - in the top division at the next finals in two years.

Equally as exciting, Sibley and Parker beat all their Commonwealth rivals - a series of performances that bodes well for next year's Commonwealth Championships in Glasgow and the 2010 games themselves in Delhi.

Delighted coach Alan Cooke said: "Kelly's performances were incredible and I think she has now moved to a new level."

"The team won all eight games but Kelly won 12 out of 13 and the one she lost was unlucky with two nets."

"This included five unexpected wins over higher-ranked players. This will guarantee Kelly a much improved ranking in the March list."

"It is due to all Kelly's dedication and hard work over the years."

Cooke was the first to congratulate the Lillington star when she came off the court in tears, delighted at having beaten the world number 39 - the best win of her international career so far."

Proud mum Lynn Bolitho - a talented player in her own right - said: "When Kelly came off the court after having celebrated with her coach and team-mates she rang me on her mobile.

"Her words were 'Mum - we've won, we've won. I can't believe it' and her voice was choked with emotion."

"I congratulated her and even I couldn't believe what they had achieved. I along with all of Kelly's family felt so very proud."

"But most of all it was something she deserved because of all her hard work and dedication, when at times it gets rather tough to keep going and keep motivated."

Kelly Sibley was first spotted as an 11-year-old when playing in the Leamington and District League. Members were swift to send congratulations to their most celebrated graduate this week.