Liam Pitchford, who started out at the Colin Deaton Table Tennis Academy in Staveley, on training preparations and encounters with the media.
“It’s now just over two weeks until the Olympics start and we’ve been busy with our preparations.
We’ve been in Denmark and Germany over the last couple of weeks, and it went well over there. We arrived in Denmark on the Monday morning and went straight into practice.
We were doing two sessions a day, on footwork, a bit of serve and receive, getting the small things ready, and then we had a matchplay session on the Thursday.
The Sweden team were there, with Jonathan Groth from Denmark, Benedek Olah from Finland, Shibaev from Russia – it was good practice and everyone worked hard. I think we got a lot out of it.
We got back on the Friday and had the weekend off to rest and recuperate and then we flew to Dusseldorf the following Monday morning.
This time we were training with the German team and some other players from in the top 30 in the world, like Shibaev, Li Ping and Panagiotis Gionis.
We did two sessions a day Monday to Thursday and then one on Friday morning and after that we played a tournament on Friday afternoon and Saturday.
I played Gionis on Friday and he’s always difficult to play against. He gets a lot of balls back on the table with heavy defence on his backhand and then a big forehand attack when he gets a chance.
I started well and was 2-0 up but he started finding his rhythm and came back. But I managed to kind of start again and I won it in the fifth.
It was the first time I’ve beaten him, so that’s good.
I played the world No 14 Timo Boll on the Saturday and didn’t really get into it. I’ve had a few close matches with him at times, but he was better than me on the day this time.
We flew home Saturday night and then went up to Manchester on Sunday because me and my team-mate Sam Walker were doing some media things at the BBC on Monday morning this week. We were on live radio and TV and that can only be good for table tennis and hopefully we can get a bit more exposure for the sport.
I’m fairly used to that sort of thing now, so I wasn’t that nervous, and I don’t think 5Live are going to grill you about things you don’t want to talk about.
Sam’s fairly new to it all, but he did a good job.
It was a lot of fun too – we played a few points against each other with frying pans for the BBC website, did some keepy-ups in the 5Live studio while they counted down into the news and even played a few rallies against the BBC World presenter on the desk in the main BBC Sport studio!
We’ve got a couple of days in Sheffield this week and then we fly to Belo Horizonte on Tuesday next week. I think we’re there with boxing and a few other sports from Team GB and we’ve got the Olympic tables and flooring there, so we’re going to be able to practise in good conditions.
I’ll do my next blog from Belo and let you know how we’re all getting on. Then it’ll be Games time – it’s getting really exciting now!”