Post from Topspin Guest Blogger Sam Walker on his experiences on winning a Bronze medal with the England Team at the recent World Table Tennis Team Championships!
The World Table Tennis Champs was unbelievable! I think I’ve just about come to terms with the fact that we won the bronze medal! It really was an unforgettable couple of weeks.
We started our preparations for the event in Singapore training with the Singapore and Russian national Table Tennis teams, it was a good few days spent training hard and adjusting to the time zone. Once we moved onto Malaysia and Kuala Lumpur we had one full day to train in the playing hall to get used to the conditions before the competition started. The conditions were generally pretty good for us although there were a lot of complaints about the second hall and the fact that they had to use portaloo’s for toilets!
We had a tough group and before it started our goal was to finish 3rd or higher. After the first few matches we were disappointed because we felt like we could have done more in the matches against Sweden and France. Still we stayed positive and we got stuck in against Denmark which was a great result for us and I recorded my first win against Hindersson! A big turning point for us was the win against Germany, we all played a fantastic match and it was a good team performance which gave us a lot of confidence to go forward with. We then knew that if we beat Malaysia and if the other results in the group went in our favour then we’d go through the group. We got a bit lucky and managed to scrape through!
In the main draw we out ourselves through a real emotional rollercoaster, every match went to the wire and was really exciting! Liam and Paul did a great job against Poland, my match was really close against Gorak and it was disappointing to lose but luckily Paul brought the match home at the end! That was an amazing high, we were really going from strength to strength as a team at that point, but we were still focosed on what we wanted to achieve and we managed to take our chances!
We were really looking forward to playing France again, we wanted that chance to make amends for the first match. We knew that the pressure would be on them as the favourites and we used that to our advantage. Liam played a fantastic game, it was the best I’ve ever seen him play and what a time to do it! At 2-2 I was confident in Paul as he’d done it in the match before against Dyjas and he didn’t let us down, but what a match it was!! At 2-2, 10-6 for Paul I thought it was over and we’d already made the semi and then when Lebesson came back to lead 11-10, I thought it was over again and we were out! Paul showed nerves of steel and showed us his best celebration at the end!!! It was an amazing moment for us all and I can’t quite put into words what it felt like, it’s always great to beat the French but to do it and secure a World Table Tennis Championships medal was incredible!!!
Even though we made the semi’s and beat France, I wasn’t satisfied with my performance against Flore, so the whole time during the match whilst I was sat on the bench I remember thinking I wanted another chance to play in the tournament and I didn’t want it to be over just yet!
It would have been the icing on the cake to have beaten Japan in the semi, but it just wasn’t to be in the end. We had our chances, but we all gave it 110% out there and we’re all really proud of ourselves and each other. I played the match of my life when we were 0-2 down to beat Oshima, I had one of those days where I felt like I could do everything and it would go on the table! My victory managed to put us back in the match but Japan and Mizutani managed to hold their nerve and pull through, credit to them.
It was an amazing feeling to play on that kind of stage for the first time, I felt like I took it all in and made the most of the experience, I hope it’s the first of many World Championships Table Tennis semi finals for me and the England team!
I think our success at this tournament was down to great team spirit through the whole squad and staff who were out in Malaysia. We just enjoyed every minute of being out there and and gave each other confidence and belief as the tournament went on! We made the most of our last couple of days in Kuala Lumpur with the celebrations!
When I got back to Germany last week, I took a couple of days off to recover and get rid of the jet lag. Since then I’ve been preparing for the English national table tennis champs this weekend, I’m really looking forward to competing in England again. I think it’ll be a really interesting tournament, the top four are in great shape at the moment and hopefully there’ll be plenty of great table tennis matches for the TV cameras!
Sam Walker, England no 3 Table Tennis Player, training professionally in Germany and Rob Davies, disabled wheelchair class one athlete and currently ranked world number one will be Topspin Sports guest bloggers on their journeys and experiences leading up to Rio.