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Nunavut’s table tennis team hauls home a dozen ulus

Nunavummiut round up 12 medals at Games
Caleb Bolt makes a point en route to a bronze medal for Team Nunavut Friday, Feb. 3. Stewart Burnett/NNSL photo

Caleb Bolt has come a long way since he started playing table tennis at age 11 in Kugluktuk.

“I’m proud of myself,” said Bolt, 16, who helped Nunavut’s table tennis contingent rack up 12 medals at the 2023 Arctic Winter Games.

“It’s a pleasure to be here training with all these experienced athletes and helping other new ones, and just to play with all the different styles of table tennis, learn, meet new friends, have fun and gain experience for other tournaments,” Bolt said following his last match Friday, Feb. 3.

“I’m very grateful to be here and also earn a medal, even three medals. I’m super happy I got to compete with all these other great athletes.”

His table tennis skills will lead him to the Canada Winter Games in Charlottetown in a couple weeks.

“I’m hoping to get close to a medal there,” said Bolt. “I just want to have fun and try my best and meet new friends like we did here.”

Ava Ahegona puts her skills on display for Team Nunavut in the table tennis tournament. Stewart Burnett/NNSL photo
Ava Ahegona puts her skills on display for Team Nunavut in the table tennis tournament. Stewart Burnett/NNSL photo

For Team Nunavut competitor Ava Ahegona, Greenland was difficult competition.

“They’re really tough,” she said, adding that she had fun at the Games.

Coach Bence Csaba said the tournament was phenomenal.

“We just brought in our 12th medal,” he said. “I can’t even tell you who’s won what because we have so many.”

He said he’s proud of the team and they have high expectations.

Csaba is the son of longtime table tennis coach Attila Csaba, and Bence himself has reached high levels in the sport, including bronze at the junior world championships.

“The nature of the game is extremely high paced, it’s intense,” he said. “Every five to six seconds, you’re either winning a rally or you’re losing a rally. You simply do not have time to be disappointed or sad, and you also don’t have time to celebrate too much.”

What the sport teaches players, he added, is that whether they win or lose, they need to hold their head high and be ready for the next rally, next match and next moment.

Nicolas Shappa earned bronze in singles among males born in 2007 or later, while Bolt took bronze in the 2004 or later division. Alice Anablak took bronze in the 2004 or later singles and Ahegona took home bronze in the junior category. Team Nunavut earned eight other medals in table tennis in doubles and team events.