No regrets for Pitchford over sacrifices for Olympic dream


Table Tennis

No regrets for Pitchford over sacrifices for Olympic dream

21 June 2016 / 12:19

Liam Pitchford is like most other men his age.

At 22 he likes nothing more than to relax by playing FIFA or Call of Duty on his PlayStation, or heading out to the golf course.

Liam Pitchford is not most other men his age though.

Learn more about Liam by checking out his Homegrown Heroes profile

At 16 he left his Chesterfield home and moved to Germany to pursue his dream of a career in table tennis.

Now, six years later, he is set to move to Sweden to further that career he has forged for himself.

In a little under two months, shortly after his 23rd birthday, he will also be a double Olympian.

Pitchford is currently ranked No.50 in the world, an achievement he has had to make countless sacrifices to achieve.

“I missed out on a lot when I was younger,” said the five-time Commonwealth Games medallist.

“I didn’t get to hang out with my mates as much as I would’ve liked and I didn’t go to uni, so I missed that kind of life but it didn’t bother me.

“It was what I wanted to do and what I’d always wanted to do. I always knew I was destined to do it so I missed out but it is what it is, it’s my life and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.

“I don’t get to play as much golf as I’d like, when I’m home I try to play a bit more but now I’m living with my girlfriend so she doesn’t let me play PlayStation as much as I’d like to.

“But I’m growing up and things change in life.”

For most successful people, in any walk of life, along with the personal sacrifices come the sacrifices of those around you to get you where you want to be, and Pitchford is no different.

The Team World Championships bronze medallist cites his parents as his biggest influence and his biggest support.

Pitchford made his Olympic debut as a 19-year-old at London 2012 and hoped his success in his chosen field would act as some sort of repayment for the faith his parents had showed in him.

“They have been there since I first picked up a bat,” added 2015 national champion.

“They’ve not put any pressure on me to do anything, they let me do what I want and I chose to do this.

“They drove me all over the country and spent I don’t know how much money, helping me achieve what I wanted to do.

“It’s nice to see them get a little bit back, they are so proud that I’m going to be a double Olympian.

“London was amazing, everyone came down, my parents, my uncle, the whole family were there to see it.

“The table tennis side didn’t go as I wanted, I played one match, but hopefully this time it will be different.”
Liam Pitchford

Things would have been different though if it weren’t for the Great British weather and a sporting choice that changed Pitchford’s life forever.

He first picked up a table tennis bat aged nine at a lunchtime club in junior school, a club he only went to because it was raining outside.

A few years later, having become a regular at a local club and beginning to play more tournaments in the Chesterfield area, Pitchford faced the decision of table, or no table?

Despite being a talented tennis player he plumped for the table variety and the rest is history.

“I started playing tournaments all over the country at under-11 level and then I got scouted by the England teams at around that age,” added Pitchford.

“I started going to England training camps then gradually thought that it was what I wanted to do more.

“Now I’m here, set to be a double Olympian, I never would have dreamed of it back then.”

By Phil Jones
Sportsbeat 2016