Chesterfield table tennis ace Liam Pitchford will be looking to continue his fine form at this weekend’s Liebherr 2013 World Table Tennis Championships in Paris.
The 19-year-old made it third time lucky to take his first men’s single title at the English Senior National Championships in March and has been setting the benchmark ever since.
He has beaten world class players such as Koki Niwa (JPN, 22), Patrick Baum (GER, 29) and Christian Suss (GER, 40) for his club side TTF Liebherr Ochsenhausen in the Bundesliga.
And, just this week, he helped his side to reach the final of the Bundesliga play-offs.
He said: “It’s been a great year for the club so far, we are unbeaten during the second half of the year. It’s been brilliant being able to play, train and be around Ryu Seungmin (KOR, 20), he’s not only an amazing player but also a great guy.
“I think that it’s been a major step for me in these last few months that I have been able to consistently perform well, I won my last three matches in the Bundesliga season and I will go to the Worlds confident that I can continue my form.”
It won’t be easy at the World Championships, which is one of table tennis’s most prestigious events alongside the Olympic Games, as the might of Asia descends upon Europe once again.
With Chinese superstars likely to dominate in Paris, the European contingent await their own hero that can break the Asian stranglehold.
At the previous individual championships in Rotterdam 2011 Pitchford was beaten by Koki Niwa, whom the Englishman has since beaten in the domestic campaign this year.
With the youngster’s fresh belief, it seems a possibility that he can repeat the dosage next week.
He added: “Koki has obviously not performed well in the German league this year so I think it would be a tighter game if we were to play in Paris but I believe I have made a lot of progress since Rotterdam.
“I hope that I can play well enough to string some performances together and then we will see where that takes me. I hope to go further that last time (last 128) as my first goal.
“After the Worlds I hope I can break into the world top 100 by at least the end of the year.”
The World Championships run from May 13-20. Pitchford has been selected for England alongside Paul Drinkhall, who he beat to become national champion in March, and fellow teenager Sam Walker.