man playing table tennis with a crutch in left hand
Jake Wicks plays in a tournament in Montenegro earlier this month Credit: ITTF

Days before his third birthday, Jake Wicks contracted meningitis and spent four days in a coma and nine days in intensive care.

Jason and Alison, his mum and dad, were told that if they arrived at the hospital just 15 minutes later, their son wouldn’t have survived.

He was in hospital for 30 days being treated for Meningococcal Septicaemia Group B. The infection left Jake with cerebral palsy and he had to learn to sit up and walk again.

Fifteen years later, the 18-year-old who lives in Ponthrydryn, plays table tennis for Wales and Great Britain, and has an ambition to represent Team GB at the Paralympics.

Jason told Cwmbran Life that his son has always been into sports and loved football, Taekwondo and swimming while growing up. But it was during a family holiday when he tried table tennis for the first time. After the holiday they found a club in Cwmbran where he could start his career in the sport.

“He started playing at Gwent Table Tennis club (who play at Cwmbran Stadium) and at the age of 11 was spotted by someone at Disability Sport Wales,” said Jason.

“He was invited to a trial where coaches of Table Tennis Wales and British Para Table Tennis were present. Jake has been a member of Table Tennis Wales and British Para Table Tennis Future squads ever since.”

Jake wearing his Great Britain shirt
Jake wears his Team GB shirt Credit: Jason Wicks

Alison said: “It’s been a rollercoaster, what with everything he went through when he was much younger. Between consultant appointments, treatments, scenes, whatever else, we spent a considerable time in hospital.

“He’s always loved sports, he’s that way.”

Lockdown caused a major issue for Jake and the lack of training to stay strong led to him losing the ability to walk again.

Jason said: “Following the relaxing of lockdown and with his determination and extremely hard work in the gym, he got back on his feet.”

Alison said: “His hand-to-eye coordination is incredible. His disability affects both his legs and his core. His mobility is much reduced.

“We put a gym in the garage and he worked so hard in there trying to get stronger and on his feet.”

Last September, due to his dedication, he was selected by British Para Table Tennis to represent Great Britain at the Finland Para Open.

Alison said: “When he finished school, he didn’t know what to do. He fancied the police. Coleg Gwent did a Uniformed Services course and he came out with a distinction.”

That led to an offer from Cardiff Metropolitan University to study Professional Policing and he started in September 2023. But his performance in Finland had impressed selectors and he was offered a place in Sheffield to train alongside the Great Britain performance squad.

It was an offer he couldn’t turn down, and Jake transferred his degree studies to Sheffield Hallam University so he could train at the top level and continue his course.

Jake and his brother Josh (red shirt) supporting a meningitis awareness campaign in around 2013
Jake and his brother Josh (red shirt) support a meningitis awareness campaign in around 2013 Credit: Jason Wicks

Jason said: “We’ve been so fortunate that he seems to have an ability for something he truly loves. People have supported him and have helped and encouraged him, and we’ve been incredibly lucky. He puts in a lot of training, hours and hours, a big commitment.”

Last Monday, Jake flew out of the UK to represent Great Britain at the Montenegro Para Open and arrived home yesterday. This year he hopes to play in tournaments in both Brazil and Hungary.

Alison said: “We were told he was 15 minutes from dying. To recover from that and show what you can achieve, determination from those setbacks. He inspires us.

“[At one point in his life] His bones were growing bigger than his legs could stretch. It left him pretty much immobile. It was his ‘I’m not going to let this get the better of me’. He worked his socks off.

“Even when he’s in pain, it won’t stop him training.”

His parents praised the support their son gets from Gwent Table Club with weekly practices and the opportunity to play against older players with experience and different styles.

Can you or your business sponsor Jake?

Jake’s table tennis travel, kit and training costs are currently self-funded. Could you or your business help him towards his Paraympican ambition?

If you can help and want to find out more about sponsoring Jake, please email his dad on

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