Gutted Liam Pitchford made a frustrated figure as his Olympic dream ended at the first hurdle in Tokyo.
Coming as the 11th seed, the Chesterfield table tennis star secured a direct pass to the third round of the men’s singles event and hopes were high with a deep run at Tokyo Metropolitan Gym.
Instead, Pitchford lost a close encounter to seeded 18th-seed Slovenian Darko Jorgic by four two-man games (8-11, 11-7, 10-12, 13-11, 9-11, 10- 12) as his Olympic campaign came to a screeching halt before it really got off the ground.
Jorgic had entered the draw in the previous round, beating Ãlvaro Robles in a seven-game thriller and the Briton was irritated that he hadn’t done his best on the bigger stage.
“I’m not too happy to be honest,” said Pitchford, whose exploits were broadcast live on Eurosport and Discovery + . âI had a lot of chances that I didn’t take, it’s frustrating because I felt I had played well, it was tight – I just didn’t take a chance.
âThat’s what it is, but I’m drained because I know I can play a lot better.
âI had higher hopes for this than what happened. It’s hard to come to the first game of the tournament and play against someone who has played before and is a really good player in their day.
“I’m going to think about it, look back and see what happened and I hope I can learn from it.”
Tokyo 2020 was Pitchford’s third Olympic Games – having been eliminated in the third round of the men’s singles at Rio 2016, where he also helped the GB team reach the quarter-finals of the men’s team event, and also having was eliminated in the first round of the team competition in London 2012.
At 28, there is no reason for it to be his Olympic swan song and he claims to have enjoyed his Japanese experience despite the uniqueness of the Games.
âIt was different, but I still liked it,â added Pitchford. âIt’s good to be back with the GB team – the atmosphere was great and I’m disappointed that I couldn’t have performed better.