It takes balls to play table tennis like Adam Gittings.
Still only 22, Adam has achieved a huge amount in the three years he has been at the University of Sunderland.
Now, just days after graduating, he looks back on a life-changing time which has got him ready for working life.
Adam became the first president of the University’s table tennis club after he brought his nationally acclaimed skills to the city three years ago.
What makes this even more remarkable is that Adam lives his day-to-day life with Asperger syndrome, and is intent on helping others with the condition.
Adam arrived with an already well established reputation as one of the UK’s best young players.
By the time he was 17, Adam was ranked the GB Under-18s Number 1 player on the Paralympic circuit, and he would later go on to be named Number 2 in the Men’s field.
During his time at the University he not only helped establish the popular club, but last season led them to finishing 3rd in the university league table.
Now, Adam, who studied Exercise, Health and Fitness, at the University, has graduated in front of family and friends at the Stadium of Light.
He said: “It’s been an amazing three years, and I’ve decided to stay in Sunderland for another year to start my career.”
So where did it all start for Adam?
He said: “When I was 15 I went along to a sports event in South Yorkshire, mainly to play football.
“But we were encouraged to try other things and one of them was table tennis. I gave it a go and one of the coaches came over to me and said I seemed to have a natural talent.”
It was that natural talent which led to Adam signing up for the Albert Premier Table Tennis Club in Sheffield.
“It was quite addictive,” says Adam. “And it was something different to playing football so I started really enjoying it.”
Over the next couple of years Adam played more and more, convincing his parents to turn their conservatory into his training room.
Diagnosed with Asperger’s aged four, Adam has never let the condition hold him back from doing what he loves most.
He arrived in Sunderland after being impressed by what the University’s Exercise, Health and Fitness programme offered.
Finding time to indulge his table tennis passion, he first joined a club based at Sandhill View Academy before going on to become President of the University’s first official Table Tennis Club.
Now, as he graduates, Adam is hoping to go on establish a personal training business, after gaining his PT qualification as part of his course. He is aiming to start working in a gym and building up clients from there.