Yellowknife 8-year-old steps up to the table at AWG
Young AWG table tennis player excited to play, does not expect the podium
He's small, he's fast and he's ready to win — not a medal, but a game of table tennis at the Arctic Winter Games.
At 4-11" tall and 65 pounds, Zachary Mathison is bigger than many of his Grade 3 peers in Yellowknife.
But he'll be considerably smaller than his teenaged competitors from Greenland and Russia — two circumpolar countries that consistently sends players who win gold and silver.
Zachary's hopes are high but his expectations are low.
"I doubt I'd get a medal … I'd just like to win a game," Zachary said with a grin.
Sport North could not confirm if Zachary is the youngest player in AWG's 48-year history.
But executive director Doug Rentmeister confirmed Zachary is one of the youngest. Typically, athletes range in age from 13 to 18.
Games a family affair
Mathison's 12-year-old sister, Tamara Mathison, also qualified for the table tennis team this year.
His brother Christopher Mathison, 14, qualified for volleyball.
Their Dad, Mike Mathison, is a longtime Yellowknifer who competed in four games between 1986 and 1984: basketball, volleyball and twice for badminton.
Mike said he is proud, but cautious about Zachary's young age.
"There's a little bit of concern for him being on his own at the night times but the coach will be there and his teammates and I'll be in town [Fort Smith]," he said
How it all began
Mike said his youngest son was noticeably coordinated at an early age.
Zachary's love of table tennis began after his grandparents set up a table in their Yellowknife home.
Since he started playing competitively, Zachary has won every tournament he's entered, despite being almost a decade younger than some of his competitors.
His love of the sport is so great, Zachary saved birthday and Christmas money to buy a special racquet. He did so hoping he'd make the team, which he did in late January
Mike describes his son as quiet but a determined athlete.
"He definitely wants to win but he's quiet. Not a man of many of words but he's definitely competitive," Mike said.