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Other Events - 3 May 2013

WALKER and DORAN to take England chance


England’s table tennis team landed in New Delhi, India this morning ahead of the Commonwealth Table Tennis Championships that begin on Sunday. The eight-man squad will be hoping to pick up their first gold medal since Matthew SYED sealed his third consecu

England’s table tennis team landed in New Delhi, India this morning ahead of the Commonwealth Table Tennis Championships that begin on Sunday.

The eight-man squad will be hoping to pick up their first gold medal since Matthew SYED sealed his third consecutive Men’s Singles title in Nigeria, 2001. However, they will have to do it without both the Men’s no. 1 and 2, Liam PITCHFORD and Paul DRINKHALL, who were tied up with play-off commitments at their Bundesliga sides in Germany.

Their absence gives fresh opportunities to youngsters Sam WALKER and Chris DORAN who both work their way into the senior side for a major championship for the first time.

WALKER, 17 from Worksop, and DORAN, 21 from Northampton, have both been in excellent form this season to merit their selection. Walker became the new English Under-21s National Champion in March while also impressing internationally at the Hungarian Junior Open.

Meanwhile, DORAN also impressed at the National Championships, reaching the quarter-finals, while he has developed a dominant lead at the top of the British Grand Prix series with just two events remaining. The duo will have a busy schedule, competing in the Men’s Singles, Men’s Team, Men’s Doubles and Mixed Doubles across the six-day event in India.

Their biggest challenge could come from the hosts, India, or fellow sub-continent opponents Singapore, who won the Men’s Team event in both 2007 and 2009. India’s side includes Sharath Kamal ACHANTA (world rank 69), Anthony AMALRAJ (150) and Soumyajit GHOSH (189), while Singapore will have ZHAN Jian (26) and LI Hu (56) but are unable to call upon top seed GAO Ning (16) who does not travel.

Sam WALKER: “I don’t see myself as being in the limelight as such. I have felt more confident in my game though this season. I don’t think that much has changed, I always believed that I could make it into the senior squad and now I have. My selection has come really suddenly for me and I haven’t had much time to think about the pressure of it yet, but I think we have a strong team capable of winning some medals out there. The next month is important as I obviously want to do my best and get some good international results as an English senior player. I think I will need to do that to prove my selection and hopefully try and cement a place in the team. They will both be a great experience for me and it’d be great for us as a team in the Commonwealths to win a medal.”

Chris DORAN: “There’s an element of luck in the selection I suppose but you make your own luck as well and I now need to prove that I deserve this place. I’ll make sure if England come calling in the future I have something to offer. I have played very well in the Grand Prixs this season, winning four so far, but I always loved playing in any form of team events and especially pulling on the England shirt. I don’t see why I can’t continue that form and even improve upon it. I would love to get back into the full England squad, unfortunately I sustained a freak injury playing football 18 months ago which slowed down my progress and then I was hospitalised in November from a virus. If I can stay injury/illness free I see no reason why I shouldn’t be aiming to get back in the England fold. I wouldn’t like to say it’s a one-shot opportunity but I guess it can be seen that way. I am in the position where, not being an automatic choice, I need to make the most of those that come my way. Just to be included in India was a major privilege but now that I’m going I would love to get a medal in one of the events and I think we certainly have a team capable of doing that. I love playing doubles in particular as normally you are playing alone so a medal in the doubles would be especially rewarding.”

England squads for Commonwealth Table Tennis Championships (New Delhi, India 5-10th May 2013)
Men: Andrew BAGGALEY, Danny REED, Chris DORAN and Sam WALKER
Women: Joanna PARKER, Kelly SIBLEY, Tin-Tin HO and Hannah HICKS
Coaches: Jia Yi LIU, Alan COOKE and Nick JARVIS
Physiotherapist: Katharine SCULLARD

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