Sunday 29 January 2012

Olympic Host Nation's Rising European Star

A year ago if the name Liam Pitchford was uttered on the international table tennis scene the recognition would nowhere near match what it does today. Moving to Ochsenhausen to compete in the Bundesliga, Liam had gone from strength to strength and has become one of Europe's most talked about young players. With outstanding results at the 2011 European Championships and the opportunity to play at the 2012 Energis Masters event, Liam is looking onwards and upwards as the Olympics grow closer. Thanks for the interview Liam!

Full Name: Liam Pitchford
Date Of Birth: 12/07/1993
Nation represented: England
Highest World Ranking: 171

Equipment Used?
Blade: Innerforce ALC
FH Rubber: Tenergy 05
BH Rubber: Tenergy 64

Your Career
How did you play table tennis for, when and how did you start?
I have been playing for about 8-9 years now, I first started when I was at junior school and it was a rainy afternoon so me and 2 friends decided to go inside and see what table tennis was all about.

What has been the highlight of your table tennis career so far?

Winning 2 medals at the 2010 commonwealth games was a major step for me and also beating former world no.1 Vladimir Samsonov last year.

How has your first season at TTF Leibherr Ochsenhausen been? We're you expecting to achieve the results you did in 2011?
Its been very good so far but also difficult to adjust to life in a different country, the practice is very good but I must admit I wasn’t expecting to get the results I got so early after moving here.

Beating Prokopcov, Samsonov and Smirnov are huge results for you, must have been very pleasing, is there anyone specific you would like to try and beat this year if the opportunity came up?
Yes I was very pleased with my results at the European championships. Theres not really anyone specific I would like to beat, just anyone that is put infront of me! Oh and obviously it would be nice to beat a Chinese!

What is your big goal for 2012?
My main goal is to qualify for the Olympic games, I will hopefully play the qualification event and try and qualify through there and if not the host nation gets some automatic places so hopefully I have a good chance to play!

You recently played Timo Boll and Werner Schlager at the Energis Masters Games, what was that experience like and how do you feel you played those matches?
It was a great experience to play two legends of the game, I felt I performed quite well they just had more consistency and quality when it was tight.

Image from the Telegraph UK

What is your week like in terms of training, Bundesliga matches and ECL matches?
It depends if and when we have matches really, normally we are practicing 2 times per day Monday to Friday with maybe taking 1 session free then 1 time Saturday and normally a bundesliga match on Sunday!

How has living in Germany been? You seem to have really become part of a great team and of course live with Jonathan Groth and are close with your teammates Tiago Apolonia, Kirill Skachkov and Andrej Gacina.
Its been difficult to adjust to but also a great learning experience and I am really enjoying it now so hopefully more results will start to come!

The big question, FIFA seems to be the ultimate challenge among your team. So of the 4 of you who is actually the best player statistically? And I noticed you pair up also which is the winning pair so far?

Haha I think im the best player to be honest ;) well last time me and Kirill won 5-1 so I would have to say us but its actually quite even which makes it more fun!

Off the Topic Questions

Who’s your favourite sportsperson of all time?
Lance Armstrong

Favourite food?

Dream Car
Aston martin V12 Vanquish

Ideal holiday destination?
Somewhere warm :)

First thing you would do if you won $1million?

Good question! I would probably buy my dad his dream car and buy mine also.

Your Team Mates

Who trained the hardest in the training hall?
Everyone trains hard but I would say Ovidiu Ionescu (Romania)

Who’s was the funniest team player?
Tiago Apolonia

Who had the best nickname?

Jonathan Groth – Johnny Drama

Last time I asked you a question about your teammates but you hadn't really got to know them yet so here goes:
If you could use one word to describe each of your teammates and training partners what would it be?

Andrej Gacina: Fighter

Tiago Apolonia: Funny

Kirill Skachkov: Laid-back

Jonathan Groth: Talkative (never stops asking questions) :P

Hunor Szocs: Talkative (never shuts up) haha

And Lastly
Would you like to add one last tip, or an inspirational message for other table tennis players looking to succeed?
Never give up! Even if youre going through a bad patch nooone is stopping you from succeeding and doing the best you can!


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