Table tennis star Sam Walker has achieved his dream of winning a World Team Championships medal.
The Worksop youngster helped England to a podium place in Kuala Lumpur last week, and rose 41 places in the world rankings thanks to his impressive performances.
Walker and England team-mates Paul Drinkhall and Liam Pitchford took bronze, after losing the semi-final 3-1 to Japan, becoming the first country in history to be promoted to the top division and then get on the podium at the next World Championships.
It was also the first time England had won a medal at this level since 1983 – before any of the current squad were born.
Walker, 20, was over the moon: “I think we’ll need a bit more time for it to really sink in. It’s a fantastic feeling and an amazing achievement.
“Our realistic goal was to stay up and we didn’t really think about getting a medal, it was just a dream. To do it was fantastic.”
Walker, whose victory over world No 20 Yuya Oshima in the semi-final was the biggest of his career, has risen from 159 in the world rankings to a career high 118.
He has also moved above Andrew Baggaley to become England’s number three, and his ranking will have a big say in whether or not Great Britain qualifies a team for the Rio Olympics.
The former Valley student said: “Rio is always in the back of my mind but now it’s more of a dominant thought. If the rankings are moving up, it’s definitely possible to qualify as a team.”
Walker is also up from 22 to 14 on the U21 list, on which he is the sixth European.