OLYMPICS: Worksop’s Walker helps Team GB into quarter-finals

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Worksop’s Sam Walker recovered from three match points down in the fifth set of the deciding rubber to send Team GB’s table tennis players into the quarter finals of the team event.

The 21-year old secured a 7-11, 11-8, 13-11, 9-11, 12-10 victory over France’s world number 18 Simon Gauzy to secure a 3-2 win for the Brits – their first victory in the Team Event since it was introduced to the Games in 2008.

All five matches of the contest went to five sets and all three Brits played their part in the win, with Paul Drinkhall defeating Emmanuel Lebesson in the second rubber and Liam Pitchford beating Tristan Flore in the fourth rubber

Pitchford lost to Gauzy in the first match while Walker and Drinkhall lost to Flore and Lebesson in the doubles.

“It’s been hard waiting for today,” said Walker. “I managed to stay quite focused. It’s a noisy hall but I managed to shut it out quite well. Obviously I can hear the guys behind me supporting me.

“I like to play on this stage of course but mainly I just like to play table tennis.

“Our support was amazing and that helped me get through it but I think I was focused still at 10-7 down in the last and I never stopped believing that I could win it.

“I received serve really well but in the rallies I think I was quite positive as well. Gauzy is a great rally player so I tried not to go into the rallies as much as I could. Even in the rallies I was playing quite well.

“The doubles was a bit of a disappointment today but if we hadn’t lost the doubles, I wouldn’t have played that singles.

“At the end of the day, it’s a team game and the team won so we’re all really happy to be in the next round.”

The Brits will play world champions and defending Olympic champions China in the quarter finals on Sunday.