Liam etches name in to Commonwealth Games history books

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Chesterfield table tennis ace Liam Pitchford etched his name in to Commonwealth Games history when he took bronze in the men’s singles.

The 21-year-old became the first English player to claim a singles medal at any Commowealth Games - his third at Glasgow 2014 - and promised there was more still to come in four years time.

He had already taken silver in the team and mixed doubles and finished his second Games in style by defeating Sharath Kamal Achanta of India 4-2 (11-6; 11-8; 4-11; 11-9; 6-11; 12-10) in the singles.

After his victory in the bronze medal match, Pitchford said he wanted to finish the competition on a high.

He said: “I wanted to end the tournament on a positive note and to get a bronze medal in the singles is absolutely fantastic. The first time any table tennis player from England has ever done it so now I’m a part of history.”

Pitchford visited the table no less than five times in his hunt for more medals in an action-packed and eventful Friday (August 1). As well as pursuing singles honours, he partnered Tin Tin Ho in the mixed doubles Paul Drinkhall in the men’s doubles.

Pitchford and Ho progressed to a gold match while the Chesterfield ace and Drinkhall advanced to a bronze medal match against Singapore in the men’s doubles that same evening.

They went down 3-2 (6-11; 10-12; 11-7; 11-8; 10-12) on Friday evening before Saturday’s final day, which began with Pitchford in singles action before he and Ho went head-to-head against Drinkhall and wife Joanna in an all English mixed doubles final.

Pitchford had another chance to test himself against Ning Gao of Singapore in the men’s singles semi-final early on. Gao won a closely contested match 4-3 (11-8; 11-13; 14-12; 6-11; 10-12; 11-7; 11-6) which spanned over an hour of play.

Pitchford then partnered 15-year-old Tin Tin Ho to take on the Drinkhalls. The promising pairing of Pitchford and Ho went down 3-2 (7-11; 3-11; 11-5; 12-10; 5-11) to the more experienced team.

“We started really bad and although we came back, they had a lot of confidence. We should have started better and I’m disappointed. It was a tough match,” said Pitchford.

It meant Pitchford, with two silvers to his name, had already surpassed his Delhi 2010 outing of doubles bronze and team silver.

The disappointment he felt in missing out on a mixed doubles gold and the singles gold medal match spurred the rising table tennis star on in his quest for a singles medal.

“I was really disappointed after both the mixed doubles and the singles,” he said.

“It took a while, about an hour before the match and I told myself I had one more chance to get another medal and I put everything into it, I made it hard for myself but got there in the end.”

And with an eye on the future and four years’ time at the next Games, he added: “My aim is to come back again in four years and get the gold, I will probably be at more of my peak and I’ll be a lot better player then.”