Chesterfield’s Liam Pitchford will compete at his third Olympics as the British Olympic Association (BOA) announces the table tennis squad for Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Pitchford has earned a place in the men’s singles by virtue of his world ranking of No 15 – he is the highest-ranked player not to have already qualified.
The 27-year-old competed in the team events at both London 2012 Olympic Games and Rio 2016 Olympic Games, helping Team GB to reach the quarter-finals in the latter, where they were defeated by the all-conquering Chinese team. He also competed in the singles in Rio, reaching the last 32.
Pitchford said: “Even though it’s been delayed for a year, it still feels amazing to qualify again. It’s going to be my third Olympics and I’m looking forward to it and hopefully I’ll have many more.
“I love being part of Team GB, we don’t get to experience that often, unlike some of the other sports. It’s just an honour, really, to be around so many great athletes and people wanting to achieve the same goals.
“It takes a bit of pressure off knowing you’re part of something that’s massive, and not a lot of people get to say they’re part of it.”
Also representing team GB is Tin-Tin Ho; the first female GB athlete to qualify for an Olympic Games since Atlanta 1996, although Team GB had a host-nation place for London 2012.
The 22-year-old from Paddington is currently a medical student at the University of Nottingham.
Pitchford and Ho have competed as part of the same England team at tournaments around the world for several years, including winning mixed doubles silver at both the 2014 and 2018 Commonwealth Games.
Pitchford added: “I’m really happy for Tin-Tin, and it’s not just for her but it’s good for women’s table tennis in Britain as well.
“It’s a massive boost in her career. She’s obviously performed well at Commonwealth Games and won medals. Hopefully, this will make her confidence go through the roof and that will help her to go out there and perform well.”
Team GB Chef de Mission for the Tokyo Olympic Games, Mark England said: “Congratulations to both Liam and Tin Tin on their selection to Team GB for Tokyo 2020.
“It is great to see Liam back competing at his third Games alongside Tin Tin, who is our first British female athlete to qualify for a Games since Atlanta 1996, a fantastic achievement for both her and the British Table Tennis Federation.”
Simon Mills, Table Tennis Team Leader for Tokyo 2020, added: “Congratulations to both athletes. For Liam to become a three-time Olympian at the age of only 27 is a huge achievement, while Tin-Tin’s qualification is a milestone in the development of the women’s game as well as a personal landmark. We look forward to supporting them to give their best possible performances in Tokyo.”