Yellowknife 8-year-old steps up to the table at AWG

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Yellowknife 8-year-old steps up to the table at AWG

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.