Table Tennis star Sam Walker has China in his sights after playing a key role in Great Britain’s best ever Olympic performance.
The Worksop star saved three match points in the deciding match of GB’s first-round team clash against France before sealing victory himself and setting up a quarter-final tie against top seeds China.
And although GB lost that match 3-0, they gave the favourites a fright by taking a set off them in all three matches – something no other country managed.
Walker is confident he and team-mates Liam Pitchford and Paul Drinkhall can learn from the experience and close the gap even more as they work towards the next Olympics in Tokyo.
“We approached it as any other match,” said the 21-year-old. “We knew they were the No 1 seeds and had three of the top four players in the world, but we never for one minute didn’t believe we could win. We just tried to play it as a normal match and play the best we could.
“They are not unbeatable and we definitely now believe in the future we can challenge them and maybe one day beat them.”
Against France, Walker, ranked No 131 in the world, came from 10-7 down to world No 17 Simon Gauzy in the deciding set to win 12-10 for the biggest win of his career to date. The overall match was 3-2 in GB’s favour, with every individual match going to five sets.
“We just fought until the end,” said Walker. “We saved four match points in total – Liam saved one and I saved three and we showed a lot of character and never gave up.
“It was amazing for me to come through with such a great win at the end and I don’t think I’ll forget it for a long time.
“It’s definitely whetted my appetite for more Olympics – I think if it hadn’t there would be something wrong!”
Walker returns to his base in Germany next week ahead of the Bundesliga season which begins on August 28th.