Team GB’s table tennis squad are a step closer to being Rio-ready now they have received their official kit for this summer’s Olympic Games.

Liam Pitchford, Paul Drinkhall, Sam Walker and reserve Tom Jarvis, plus coach Alan Cooke and team leader Simon Mills, attended kitting out at the NEC in Birmingham on Friday.

They were measured for playing kit, casual wear and formal wear, all Team GB branded, and left with bags full of gear to take to Rio.

It was a busy day as they also posed for official Team GB photos and took part in media activity – including Paul and Liam being asked to draw portraits of each other in two minutes and recording social media messages.

Paul and Liam show off their portraits of each other
Paul and Liam show off their portraits of each other

“It’s a fun day and when you take your kit home you think ‘wow, it’s getting close’,” said Liam “It feels a bit like Christmas going home with three big bags of stuff.

“The table tennis kit is all freshly designed. We saw a prototype before but it’s nice to see and get the real thing.”

Paul added: “This is obviously great, you see how big it is to be part of Team GB and how good it is too.

“When you start putting the kit on it starts feeling a bit more real.”

Tom, Liam and Sam recording a National Lottery message
Tom, Liam and Sam recording a National Lottery message

Sam is a relative novice at the kitting out procedure compared with the two senior players, while Tom has never been through anything similar.

Sam said: “Commonwealth Games kitting out was good but this is on a different scale. Arriving here made it all a bit more exciting and when you get the actual kit it helps it all sink in a bit more and builds up the excitement towards getting out there.”

Tom, having been on the receiving end of some friendly banter in the media zone as the youngest team member, added: “I never really expected anything like this. I thought I’d be at home watching the Games and not be involved – it’s a bit strange!”

Alan Cooke has been through a few similar events but said: “It’s still special because we’ve been focusing on getting there and on the preparation and it’s only today that the realisation is starting to hit home, you get the butterflies and the excitement is just beginning.

“It’s been an exciting but stressful few months trying to get the team to qualify and getting over the line but it all becomes very real when you turn up at this event.”