WALKER: I still need some time to realise fully what we have achieved
Perfect 2016 World Championships in Kuala Lumpur
England, the team that had started proceedings as the no.18 seeds at the Perfect 2016 World Championships in Kuala Lumpur concluded the Men’s Event with the bronze medal. It was first medal for England after 33 years.
In the semi final Paul DRINKHALL, Liam PITCHFORD and Semual WALKER suffered defeat in the match againt Japan, after they overcame France, Germany, Poland and Denmark.
“There's no doubt that I still need some time to realise fully what we have achieved,” addmited WALKER.
Samuel WALKER underlined few important moments at the Championships.
“I think the most important moments for us at the championships were when we beat Germany and France. I think the match against Germany was a real turning point for us as a team, it gave us a lot of confidence. Of course the match against France was huge and that win secured us a medal which was an amazing moment!”
WALKER led us step by step throughout the Event.
“We started the tournament against Sweden which was a really tough match, we were hoping to do more in that match and were disappointed to lose 1-3.The match against France in the group was a hard one to take at the time, we lost 3-0 and I think we felt like we could've done more in that match. It was great to turn out form around against Denmark with a hard fought win, they are good team and it was great to beat them. I think we really started to build momentum and gain a lot of belief after we beat Germany. For us that was a massive step and then we started to think about going through the group. Against Malaysia we were the favourites to win for the first and only time in the tournament and we all did a great job to win that match 3-0.”
They stayed at the right track even after the defeats.
“I think after losing to Sweden and France it was important for us to just stay positive and continue to play our games, our team spirit was amazing and that really helped. Everything was still possible and we just wanted to take each match one at a time and finish as high in the group as possible, I don't think we were really thinking about winning any medals at that point!”
England beat France when it was most important.
“Obviously the two matches against France were totally different, in the quarterfinal all of us were playing much better than in the group stages. We had built up a lot of momentum and again our team spirit was fantastic and despite losing the first match we believed we could do it the second time around. I think we managed to put more pressure on France in the quarterfinals as well after Liam pulled it back to 1-1 and that was a really important match.”
The fantastic run concluded in the semi final after the duel against Japan.
“I guess the biggest thing we would like to have done differently against Japan was win! But in all honesty I don't think we have any regrets in that match, we all gave it 110 percent and left it all out on the table. People have been criticizing Liam for losing from 2-1 and 10-6 up and for not taking a time out but I don't think that's fair. Liam gave it everything and in some aspects I think he was a little unlucky, MIZUTANI is number 7 in the World and for Liam to be in that situation in the first place is incredible. He had an unbelievable tournament with some great performances so I really don't think it's fair to criticize him for that, I'm proud of him and everyone in the team, we have created history. I think we have to give credit to Japan, they played great and kept their nerve to win it.”
It was first time in history that newly promoted team clinged the medal at the World Championships.
“Our team has really started to rise since the last World team Championships in Tokyo where we won the second division. From then we've gone from strength to strength and achieved so much, we made history at the Commonwealth Games in 2014 where collectively we won 5 medals including the silver. Paul has had a career high World ranking of 33 I think it was and also wok the Spanish Open. Liam and Paul both made great performances in the European Games in the summer and now we've won the bronze at the Worlds. It has been a couple of years where we have made a lot of history for English table tennis.”
“We have great team spirit, but not just in our team, it's right through the whole England squad. From the women's team right through to the Physio and staff who have been out in Malaysia with us. We're all good friends as well and I think that is a great quality to have in a team, there's always a good atmosphere with us and that's important!”
Team has great support from the national association.
“The English association has gone through a big change, from changing the name to Table Tennis England to changing staff and I think it's the hard work of all the staff behind the scenes that are really trying to push us forward as a sport and nation with very limited resources has had a major impact.”
WALKER is currently ranked at position no 118 in the World.
“I'm currently on a career high ranking. I've had some really big wins in the last year against the likes of OSHIMA, FRANZISKA, KIM Doghyun, ACHANTA and HE Zhiwen which really great for me. Last season I also won the 2. Bundesliga with my club ASV Grünwettersbach which was a major achievement for me and it has been fantastic playing my first season in the 1.Bundesliga!”
How much your family influenced your recent success?
“My family have been a massive part in my career so far, they have always been unbelievably supportive of what I want to do, I'm pretty sure my parents are my biggest fans! They gave up a lot of time when I was younger to help me with training and also spent a lot money on my table tennis, for which I can't thank them enough. I've got a lot of support from my first coach and close friend Howard KNOTT, that's always great to have someone close to you who has helped you so much. I don't think things could've been possible without the support of my family and friends!”
Does the playing for the German club helped you improve your game?
“I moved to Ochsenhausen 1 and a half year ago and that was one of the best decisions of my life. I'm part of the LIEBHERR Masters College there and the training is great, we have a lot of talented young players all working really hard together and I think that's important. I believe the setup and resources we have there is one of, if not the best for a training academy in Europe. The coaches are very experienced and dedicated on helping everyone improve and you can see that the hard work is paying off, a lot of the players from Ochsenhausen are really showing considerable improvements recently!”
Next step is the Olympic Games.
“I really hope so, but first we have to qualify as a team so we're focused on that at the moment and then we can start to think about performances at the Olympics.”