Table Tennis England is proud to announce its line-up to go for gold at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games this summer.
The men’s squad comprises Liam Pitchford, Paul Drinkhall, Andrew Baggaley, Daniel Reed and Sam Walker.
The women’s line-up features Joanna Drinkhall, Kelly Sibley, Tin-Tin Ho, Hannah Hicks and Karina Le Fevre.
Baggaley is the most experienced and most decorated of the 10-strong squad, having appeared at every Games since table tennis made its debut at Manchester in 2002. At those Games he won gold in men’s team and men’s doubles and followed up with silver in men’s doubles at Melbourne 2006. He took his medal tally to five with team silver and doubles bronze in Delhi four years ago.
The team also features husband-and-wife team Paul and Joanna Drinkhall. The pair won mixed doubles bronze together in Delhi (Joanna under her maiden name of Parker). Both Drinkhalls, and Sibley, will be appearing at their third Games.
Pitchford and Reed are also medallists from Delhi – Pitchford alongside Baggaley in the doubles and both as part of the bronze medal-winning team. It will be the second Games appearance for both, and also for Hicks and Le Fevre.
There are two debutants in the squad – Walker on the men’s side and Ho on the women’s. Tin-Tin is also the youngest member of the squad at 15.
The men’s team have enjoyed their most memorable season for some years, having last month won the Challenge Division at the World Team Championships in Japan. This secured promotion to the Championship Division for the first time in 17 years.
Pitchford, the world No 56, will be one of the gold medal favourites at the Games, while Drinkhall won the Spanish Open in April, becoming the first Englishman to win an ITTF World Tour Open since Carl Prean in 1996.
Jon Pett, Team Leader for Table Tennis England, said of the announcement: “We are proud to announce the selection of such a strong squad of talented athletes who I’m sure will do their country proud.
“There is a good balance of experience and youth within the squad, coming into the Games on the back of a number of strong performances over the last 12 months. The Commonwealth Games are an important milestone for the sport and the athletes.
“Personally I am honoured and delighted to be leading the team for Glasgow 2014 and to have the opportunity to support our athletes to achieve, and experience everything that a Commonwealth Games has to offer.
“England has performed well in table tennis at previous Games, and we hope to continue that success in Glasgow.”
Both squads today fly to China for a two-week training camp before completing their Games preparation in the UK.
by Paul Stimpson (June 5th 2014)