Maria is currently enjoying her first year playing table tennis professionally after graduating from university with a first-class degree in June 2018. Maria represented England at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games, winning a historic Women’s Team bronze medal.

Please describe your journey as a talented student athlete

“TASS supported me emotionally, financially and physically through my three years at university. I had the help and assistance I needed when making the transition into university and continuing to pursue a career in my sport. It gave me the ability to become stronger, faster for table tennis while aiding me to make those important deadlines at university.

“The TASS support came at the perfect time for me. The initial move to university was daunting but through TASS I quickly formed relationships with those in place to support me. A huge plus was the lifestyle meetings which made me feel settled and on top of things. The strength and conditioning at the University of Nottingham helped me make improvements to the physical side of my game as I made the transition to being a senior athlete.

“Professional table tennis players often struggle to gain and then maintain a steady income. For this reason, having an education as well as a sporting career means that there is always plan B for life. Personally, I enjoyed education and learning about the world around us. For me it was not a plan B it was more like table tennis and education is my plan A altogether.

“I believe it’s important to keep the brain stimulated in any aspect of life and with dual career you benefit from having two aspects of your life to keep you active and engaged.

“My favourite aspect of being a student athlete was definitely being able to achieve a bronze medal at my first Commonwealth Games alongside receiving a first class degree within the space of two months. I enjoyed the busy and hectic lifestyle that being a student athlete brings and the feeling that you get when you eventually reach the goals you have set yourself. I also shocked myself with my ability to maintain and uphold a social life too!

“TASS has helped me realise that using all the support available to you and knowing when to talk to someone is vital in succeeding in life. They made me realise that people care, allowed me to dream big and ultimately are part of the reason I have achieved what I have.”

What would be your wish for the next generation of talented athletes?

“I hope they enjoy every moment of having a dual career and take every opportunity given to them with enthusiasm. I also hope they take advantage of the support available to them and thrive during this time in their life.”

Use one word to describe what TASS means to you.