Liam Pitchford digs deep to win table tennis bronze

Liam Pitchford had to dig deep both mentally and physically after an all-nighter following England’s semi-final defeat at the Birmingham 2022 men’s table tennis team event.

The 29-year-old from Chesterfield produced a daring display to beat Quadri Aruna 3-1 (11-9, 9-11, 12-10, 11-6) in the singles as the hosts got the better of Nigeria to the bronze. .

But Pitchford admitted he had mixed emotions after the hosts’ podium place was confirmed with a rubber singles win for Paul Drinkhall, who previously teamed with Tom Jarvis to give the team a start perfect with a doubles victory against Bode Abiodun and Olajide. Omotayo.

Pitchford has previously spoken openly about his mental health struggles, describing last year’s delayed and post-lockdown Olympics as “the worst of my career”.

And although he is proud of how he overcame the devastation of missing the gold medal game to triumph at the NEC, he still felt unsatisfied to come away with a bronze medal as the disappointment of England’s semi-final loss to Singapore persisted.

“I feel a bit indifferent, obviously this is another medal to add to the collection. I’m still in pain since last night, I haven’t slept much and I didn’t know if I was going to play today, he said.

“I’m pretty proud to have come out and proved, not just to myself but to everyone, that I can still play like this. I can beat the best players in the world.

“It gives me confidence for the singles, but it still hurts. I spoke to a psychologist last night and did a lot of work. I wanted to go out there and win, not for me, but for the boys.

“For Tom [Jarvis] Winning his first Commonwealth medal motivated me. Everyone was behind me; I received a lot of support. I wanted to go out and prove to everyone that I’m still here.

This summer, the England team, supported by funds raised by National Lottery players, includes more than 400 athletes, all vying for a medal.

Pitchford has an impressive record at the Commonwealth Games, with the men’s team bronze medal taking his tally to nine medals in England team colors since his debut at New Delhi 2010.

He brought home three gongs from the Gold Coast – a full set of medals – gold in doubles alongside Drinkhall, silver in mixed doubles with Tin-Tin Ho and bronze in the team.

And Pitchford, who will return to action in men’s singles and doubles, said his determination not to let the team down has helped him refocus on the job at hand.

“I’m not one to waver because it’s not going well,” Pitchford continued. “It shows what character I have, and I wanted to do it for the boys as well.”

Pitchford’s performance was also hailed by 22-year-old teammate Jarvis, who is competing on his Commonwealth Games debut, insisting the team can walk with their heads held high.

“It was really tough coming back from yesterday, I don’t think we’ve ever felt so bad losing a team game, but I’m just proud of the guys today,” he said. .

“I’m proud of Liam for coming out and beating their number one and I think we can all walk away with our heads held high now. We just said we gotta go out and enjoy it.

“There was a lot of stress yesterday and I think all that went away today. We just came out and showed our level, we could win a gold medal but it didn’t happen.

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