Olympic and Paralympic table tennis aces heading to Hatfield

PUBLISHED: 08:24 17 March 2016

England table tennis' Alan Cooke (coach), Sam Walker, Paul Drinkhall and Liam Pitchford. Picture coutesy of ITTF

England table tennis' Alan Cooke (coach), Sam Walker, Paul Drinkhall and Liam Pitchford. Picture coutesy of ITTF

R.Gros/ITTF

Stars of Olympics, Paralympics, World Championships and Commonwealth Games will thrill a capacity Hatfield crowd when the PG Mutual National Table Tennis Championships come to Hertfordshire Sports Village this weekend (March 18-20).

The sports village is no stranger to hosting elite level sport, but this is the first time the table tennis national championships have come to town.

Director of sport David Connell, said: “Hertfordshire Sports Village is proud to be hosting the 2016 Table Tennis England PG Mutual National Championships.

“We look forward to welcoming the best 32 players in the country.

“This is the latest in a number of high-profile sporting events that the University of Hertfordshire Sports Village has hosted and demonstrates how our facility and staff can successfully accommodate national and international competitions in several sports, including table tennis, in addition to our regular hosting of Superleague Netball and national badminton.

“Myself and all my staff wish the best of luck to all players as they battle it out for the 2016 singles, doubles and team titles.”

The England Leopards heroes Liam Pitchford, Paul Drinkhall and Sam Walker will take centre stage in the men’s singles, fresh from having winning bronze medals at the World Team Championships in Malaysia earlier this month - England’s first medal at that level since 1983.

The trio were also all medallists at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games and will be joined in the field by fellow Team England stars from Glasgow, Andrew Baggaley, Danny Reed, Kelly Sibley, Tin-Tin Ho, Karina Le Fevre and Hannah Hicks.

Pitchford, Drinkhall, Baggaley and Sibley were also part of Team GB at the London Olympics.

A string of Paralympians will also be competing, including London 2012 silver medal winner and current world champion Will Bayley.

Bayley was this week named in the Paralympic GB squad for Rio 2016 and will be joined in Hatfield by no fewer than seven other members of that squad - Jane Campbell, Kim Daybell, Sue Gilroy, Jack Hunter-Spivey, Aaron McKibbin, David Wetherill and Ross Wilson.

The event will feature men’s and women’s singles, men’s, women’s and mixed doubles, a men’s team event and four Paralympic competitions, as well as U21 men’s and women’s singles.

If you haven’t got a ticket, you can watch the latter stages of the tournament live on ITV4 from 3-6pm on Sunday (March 20).

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