GB ready for table tennis test
August 2, 2012 16:04 pm
Team GB's interest in table tennis at the London 2012 Olympics re-ignites on Friday when the team events get under way.
The Brits have enjoyed an impressive Games thus far, with Paul Drinkhall reaching round three of the men's singles and Joanna Parker round two in the women's.
Drinkhall, in particular, thrilled the crowd in claiming the notable scalp of Singapore's Zi Yang. The 22-year-old will hope to continue that success on Friday, when he is joined by Liam Pitchford and Andrew Baggaley.
The contrast between his team-mates could not be starker; Baggaley is a 29-year-old two-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist, while Pitchford is an exciting youngster who last year overcame veteran Belarusian Vladimir Samsonov.
Despite his experience, Baggaley has yet to taste the thrill of competing in an Olympics and is relishing the challenge. "I have had a really good build-up and was in China for a month's training," he told Press Association Sport.
"I feel very sharp and confident and am raring to go. I really like the hall because it suits my game and the conditions are not too slow. I believe I am a big-time player who does it on the big stage and feel I can produce the goods when it matters.
"Hopefully, I can draw on my experiences and help the others. I just want to go out there and make sure I give it my best and leave with no regrets."
The men, much like their female counterparts, enjoyed the best possible draw - not that their challenges will be easy. Indeed, due to their lower ranking, the teams were always going to face one of the top-eight seeds.
Both were pitted against the respective eighth-ranked sides, with Drinkhall et al facing Portugal and Parker, Kelly Sibley and Na Liu tackling North Korea.
Baggaley added: "Even the weakest team on paper will be a tough match for us. I am looking for the win, but there would be no disgrace in losing to Portugal, who are one of the best teams in Europe. You get a lot of surprises at the Olympics, though, and hopefully that can be us."
Copyright © Press Association Ltd. 2012, All Rights Reserved.