When it comes to the Commonwealth Games, Andrew Baggaley has been there, done that and got the Team England shirt.
The elder statesman of the squad at 31, the Milton Keynes star has been an ever present since table tennis was introduced to the Games in Manchester in 2002.
His Commonwealth career has been a glittering one, with five medals racked up so far – team and men’s doubles golds in 2002, men’s doubles silver in Melbourne in 2006 and team silver and men’s doubles bronze in Delhi in 2010.
And Baggaley sees no reason why he should not extend his proud record and appear on the podium at a fourth successive Games in Glasgow this summer.
“I remember back in 2002 playing in Manchester and I can’t believe I’m again playing in 2014 in Britain. It’s absolutely fantastic, I’m really looking forward to the challenge,” he said.
“It’s all on the day. I want to try to see if we can win a medal in the team and hopefully have a great singles event as well.
“It would be amazing if I did win a singles medal. It’s always tough to win a medal but I certainly have a chance to win a medal or two.”
While Baggaley is the oldest member of the squad, he does not expect the other players to need to lean on him or draw on his experience.
“The other guys are quite experienced as well,” he pointed out. “Hopefully we can all get ideas out of each other. We’ve all got different styles and different ways how we prepare and we’ll all help each other.”
Baggaley was speaking at the team’s pre-Games training camp at the National Sports Centre at Lilleshall, where the squad have had sports science input as well as coaching.
“It’s been a really good camp, I’ve been really enjoying it,” he said. “The physical training’s been good and the practice has been really good too.
“We’ve been doing lots of different psychology classes as well. I’m always interested to hear different ideas on the psychology side of things and speaking to the psychologist, it’s nice to take some of his views on board.”
With arguably the best preparation of any England Commonwealth squad, who would bet against Baggaley – and his team-mates – adding to the medal haul?
By Paul Stimpson (July 8th, 2014)
Visit our website every day for Commonwealth Games previews in the run-up to the opening ceremony on July 27.