Walker and England back at the top table

Sam Walker and his England table tennis team-mates celebrate promotion

Sam Walker and his England table tennis team-mates celebrate promotion

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Worksop’s Sam Walker and his England team-mates are celebrating a return to the top division of world table tennis for the first time in 17 years.

The teenager was part of a four man squad who took the Challenge Division title at the World Team Championships in Tokyo last week.

Former Redlands and Valley student Walker, ranked 254th in the world, shared the number three role with Daniel Reed throughout the tournament.

He was understandably delighted to help England back to the top table.

He said: “We can be proud of what we’ve done.”

“Our main target was to get promotion but we still wanted to win (the title) – and we finished the job off.”

Walker, who is based in Germany with a professional club, hopes the time he spent at the table in the major tournament will stand him in good stead as his career develops –and as he tries to impress the Commonwealth Games selectors.

“I’m disappointed that I didn’t win some of the matches that I played, but the experience has been good for me,” he said.

“We had a great team spirit and I really felt part of the team.”

Having finished in the top two to seal promotion back to the Championship Division, England then beat Italy 3-1 to clinch the title.

Walker featured in the final match but was unable to overcome world number130 Niagol Stoyanov, despite a third-end comeback, ultimately losing 3-11, 6-11, 11-9, 11-13.

England’s performance coach Alan Cooke believes it could be the start of an era of success for the team, which was spearheaded by number oneLiam Pitchford and number two Paul Drinkhall.

“It’s a young team and from their point of view it’s the start of a journey,” he said.

“I honestly believe this team has got the potential to achieve a lot in the future.”