Liam Pitchford tells us what it’s like to pick up his Olympic kit…
“There’s only a month to go until the Olympics and now we’ve been given our Team GB kit it’s getting exciting.
Me and the other team members Paul Drinkhall and Sam Walker – and the reserve player Tom Jarvis, our coach Alan Cooke and team leader Simon Mills – went to the NEC in Birmingham for the kitting out day.
We had an introductory meeting to tell us about the athletes’ village and other things about Rio and then we went into kitting out. We had our own personal assistant to pick out the clothes and the sizes for us in each section and there was playing kit and casual kit and we got a Team GB suit as well.
Then there were interviews and a lot of media and sponsorship things going on. We had official photos taken and recorded some messages for Team GB social media.
They put me and Paul on a sofa and got us to ask each other questions while they filmed us, then they asked us to draw pictures of each other.
We’re not very good at art but I managed to draw a picture of him with not much hair. He got his own back by making me a very skinny character!
It’s a fun day and when you take your kit home you think ‘wow, it’s getting close’. It feels a bit like Christmas going home with three big bags of stuff.
The table tennis kit is all freshly designed. We saw a prototype before but it’s nice to see and get the real thing.
We’ve got a lot of hard work to do between now and flying to Brazil. The three team players went to Korea a couple of weeks ago and it went well.
We had about two weeks there. It was a long flight but we got into practice straight away and it was good practice – we were at the Samsung club and there were a lot of good players there.
We worked hard and then we went to the Korea Open tournament which had most of the world’s top 20 playing. We weren’t really expecting to play our best table tennis at that stage, but we all played quite well.
I was pretty pleased with qualifying for the main draw which was the last 32. I played the world No 13 Jeoung Youngsik and lost 4-1. My match wasn’t the best ever, but it was building confidence for what’s to come. We got a lot out of the trip.
We’ve got five days in Denmark now, with a lot of good players there to practise with. It’ll be more about trying to get tuned up for matchplay, so more serve and return and that kind of thing.
After that we’re heading to Germany for training and two days at a tournament and it will be good to play some matches and see where we are at.
It’s good to get that variety by playing against a lot of different players. Everyone has a different style and it’s good to play against all of those styles.