Chesterfield's Liam Pitchford has Tokyo 2020 vision while on Team GB duty

Chesterfield table tennis ace Liam Pitchford. (Photo by Koki Nagahama/Getty Images)
Chesterfield table tennis ace Liam Pitchford. (Photo by Koki Nagahama/Getty Images)

Chesterfield’s Liam Pitchford will have the Tokyo 2020 Olympics in his sights when he competes for Team GB in the World Team Qualification Event in Portugal.

Pitchford, who was one of England's stars in the recently held ITTF Team World Cup, has been called up alongside Paul Drinkhall, Sam Walker and Tom Jarvis in the men’s squad, while Tin-Tin Ho, Charlotte Carey and Maria Tsaptsinos will compete in the women’s event. All the players are English with the exception of Carey, who is from Wales.

Pitchford, Drinkhall, and Walker are all beneficiaries from the Aspiration Fund given by UK Sport to aid athletes in qualification for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Something that they are setting their sights on achieving during the team Olympic qualification.

The competition, in Gondomar from January 22 to 26, will decide which nations qualify to compete in the team events at the Tokyo Olympics.

Great Britain men are likely to be among the seeds in Portugal, where the teams will be drawn into brackets of eight, and could play up to three matches – effectively a quarter-final, semi-final and final.

The eight nations winning those finals will earn a place at the Olympics.

The nations which lose in the finals will enter a repechage phase of knockout matches with the winner of that also going to Tokyo.

That means a total of nine men’s and nine women’s teams will qualify in Portugal and will join the continental champions and hosts Japan to make up the final fields of 16 at the Olympics.