With the 2018 ITTF-European Table Tennis Championships beginning on Tuesday 18th September, Team England favourite Liam Pitchford is hoping for a successful return following a fantastic year.
Earlier in the year, Pitchford made his third Commonwealth appearance at the Gold Coast, taking his first gold medal at the competition as well as a silver and bronze.
“I’ve had a good couple of weeks on the tour recently, I’m playing well,” the 25-year-old said. “I know if I play well then I can beat all the players there, but I can always lose against them if I don’t play to the level I expect of myself. My main focus is keep doing what I’ve been doing.”
Pitchford, who trains and plays his table tennis domestically in Germany for Ochsenhausen, believes that consistency is key to his thoroughly deserved success, and the Championships in Alicante are no different.
“I’ve been trying to get more consistent and keep putting in the performances one after another, taking it one game at a time. That’s the aim for next week, on my day I know I can beat most, if not all the players in the competition, as long as I remain consistent. I’m confident I can do that.”
Pitchford’s 2018 has been incredibly successful, starting with a World Team Championships bronze medal, beating Olympic silver medallists Japan in the World Championships and his three Commonwealth medals in April. As well as this, Pitchford recently beat reigning Olympic and World Champion Ma Long in the Bulgaria Open round of 32, a victory highly regarded as one of the biggest wins in English table tennis history.
“It was a big shock around the world I think, he doesn’t really lose to European players – maybe in his career he’s lost to me and two others,” the Chesterfield-born table tennis player said. “I rode my luck a bit and it went well, that result especially has given me a lot of confidence and I know that I can beat the Chinese now.”
There a few competitions and individual goals on the horizon Pitchford wants to accomplish, and while his career is still fairly young, his hunger and ambition to win has never been higher.
“Now I’ve had a few good results, my ranking’s gone up and there’s a few more possibilities opening up, hopefully I’ll be playing in the European Top 16 in January and that gives me a few more chances to qualify for a few bigger events in the future. That’s the aim, to keep moving up the ranking list, I know I’m good enough to be higher.”
As a valiant representative for Team England table tennis, Pitchford believes that one event in the not-so-distant future is “massive” for the sport’s growth; the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.
“I’m really looking forward to it. For us as table tennis athletes, the Commonwealths are massive for us because it’s always been our chance to win medals and get on TV, it’s changed now as we’ve got more expectations, but playing in a home Games for me, would be huge, I love it.
“We had a World Team game in London, and I thrived in that atmosphere and I played well. For Birmingham 2022, I’ll be 28, I’ll be in my peak – it’ll be nice to be on the top step of the podium in front of a home crowd.”
The European Table Tennis Championships will be held in Alicante, Spain from the 18th-23rdSeptember. To keep an eye on Pitchford and all the other Team England athletes’ performances, visit http://ettc2018.com/.