Category: Table Tennis

By Tony Alvarez

Following up on our series of interviews with Table Tennis players, i have conducted an interview with the World number 2 in paralympic band 7. I wanted to find out how he trains and what difficulties he had in his life. If you have anything you would like to know leave the questions as a comment and i will forward them to the man himself.

I hope you enjoy

Full name; William John Bayley
Date of birth; 17/01/88
Place of birth; Poole
Height; 5;8
Current club; National Centre (York gardens)

Most famous person on your mobile?

Ummmmm no one to be honest,, were all about as unknown as each other.

What’s guaranteed to make you mad?

People moaning about how much of a struggle life is.

Best place you’ve ever been too?

Rio de Janeiro or Las Vegas

Favourite television program?

Sky Sports News

Who was/is your favourite sportsman?

Ali, best sportsman that’s ever lived and inspirational in his belief in himself and the way he put it across.

Best Film Ever?

 Forrest Gump, I like the way he overcomes a lot and turns out to be very successful against all odds.
Who would you sing on stars in your eyes?  

Ummmm I think Kanye West, I could pull it off.

What’s your signature dish?

Chicken and rice surprise.

Favourite drink?

 J20 orange and passion fruit

Career questions

For those who don’t know you you’re a Paralympian having competed in Beijing, What class do you play in? What are the specifications for this class?

I play in class 7 which usually means the restriction of 2 limbs, in my case I have all 4 limbs affected. Sometimes classification is flexible to how well you can cope with your disability. My disability is arthrogryposis which stiffens all 4 joints and restricts movement in them.

You have competed in the Paralympics, how did it feel to play in the World’s biggest multi sports games?

1 word AMAZING, I want more, I train everyday to achieve in my career as best I can,, but without a medal in a Paralympics my career will always be missing something, I could win every international competition with every player in the world competing, but without a Paralympic medal it would count for very little in my opinion, I judge players on major success not international success. 

What’s been the best moment of your career so far, of course playing in the Paralympics is huge, is it bigger than winning international events?

Playing in the Paralympics was a truly great experience. However I was very young and even more inexperienced. I think winning 3 international tittles last year was amazing. And to be world ranked no2 is a great achievement and deserved.

You have overcome so much in your life so far, as you have had such huge pressures off the table do you feel there is no pressure on the table?

 As a young boy growing up I overcame cancer and was given a 50% chance of survival at the age of 7 so I forgot about my disability and concentrated on getting better. I feel all that has helped me achieve in sport as I no I can push harder than anyone else and dig deeper when I need to. Pressure is just a word and everyone feels pressure at a time in there life or at a competition but I feel you can use it in a positive way and you know your opponent is feeling just as pressured as you if not more.

What was the lowest moment of your career so far?

In 2007 I was re classified from being the best player in class 6 to being an average class 7 player it was a hard time for me! It’s taken me 3 years to get my ranking and standard up to what it was in the previous class.
As you have been so dedicated to table tennis do you ever feel you missed out on a social life or growing up like a “normal” kid?
 Sometimes I feel it might have done, but it’s worth it when you win things, there is no feeling like it, I am hungry for 2012. Then hopefully I can live the rest of my life as a champion.

Your currently 2nd in the world, do you find it a shame that you can be the 2nd best in the World at something and the average person doesn’t know who you are?

 Not really I feel there are loads of people that deserve credit and publicity, i.e. soldiers, doctors, nurses they deserve it more than I do.


Where do you see yourself in say, four years time?

Preparing to go into the Rio Olympics as the raining champ!
Whilst on the topic of the future, let’s move forward 20 years time. Do you still wish to be involved in Table Tennis or do you see yourself in a different career?
 To be honest I feel it is very difficult to make money out of being a Paralympic athlete in table tennis. I feel the sponsors are no were near as supportive as they are to able bodied athletes and the RESPECT is not there its very sad but very true. So no matter what I achieve I will probably not ever make a living out of it although that is the dream.
Is it possible for you to make a living out of Table Tennis or will you need another job along side Table Tennis?
 As I have just explained it is very hard to make a living out of Paralympic table tennis, I mean If I was 250 in the world in able bodied sport I would probably get more sponsorship deals than I do being world no2 in Paralympic sport but that’s life. I think it’s great that sports get support in able bodied competition I just feel it should be fairer but I am very biased. So yeah I will need a job to support my career in the future although at the moment all my focus is on training for London 2012.

You have obviously worked hard to get to where you are, what sort of training do you do?
 I train 6 hours per day in Sheffield institute of sport. We also do physical training and footwork training.

How many times a week do you train and how long is each session generally?

Mainly 2 times per day for 3 hours a time.
Do you do both physical and on the table training?

Yes I think its important, I think if you feel fitter stronger faster than the other player you will have a mental edge.
You previously trained at Filton academy in Bristol, but are now at the national academy in Sheffield, How much of an influence was Filton on your career?

 I currently train in Sheffield and have done for 1 year, Bristol was amazing for me and I loved it, Kevin Satchill was an inspirational coach and I cannot thank him enough for what he was done for me. It was the 1st time I’ve moved away from my family and he was a father to me, hopefully I will repay him one day with Olympic gold.
Thank you for your time we wish you all the best in the future.



Our second Table Tennis player interview is with England international Liam Pitchford.

Liam is currently playing in both Germany, you may of seen him on the BBC earlier in the year competing in the Commonwealth games.

This article includes Shouts from the Stands new feature team mates, so you the fans can find the ins and outs of the national side.

The answers are completely as given by the players and not changed by me at all so you get the natural feel of listening to the players thoughts.

Full Name; Liam Benjamin Pitchford
Date Of Birth; 12/07/1993
Place Of Birth; Chesterfield
Height; 178cm
Club(s): FC Tegernheim (Germany)

GETTING TO KNOW Liam Pitchford
Most famous person on your mobile?

No one really, probably Gavin Evans haha.

what’s guaranteed to make you mad?

Losing at any type of game especially Call Of Duty.

Your favourite hobby outside of Table Tennis?

That’s a tough one but I spend a lot of time on the Playstation so it would have to be that.

Best place you’ve ever been too?

Hong Kong or Colombia.

Favourite television programs?

Family Guy or Misfits.

Who was/Is your favourite Sportsman?

Lance Armstrong because of his determination and dedication.

Best film ever?

The Shawshank Redemption.

What song would you sing on Stars in their eyes?

The Beatles – Let it Be.

What’s your signature dish?

I don’t really cook the best I do is heat up some pasta.

Favourite drink?

Rubicon Passion fruit.

Do you have any other talents?

There’s too many to think of haha!

Career questions
You have had some highs in your short career so far, what was the best moment?

My win against Gao Ning at the commonwealths was a nice feeling but just being able to step on the podium was probably the best moment.

What was the lowest moment?

Losing in the semis of singles at the cadet Europeans in Terni.

Do you feel pride that at such a young age you have a silver medal in both the commonwealth games and the English national championships or disappointment that is was only silver and not gold?

Obviously it was disappointing but I looked a lot at my game after nationals and had time to work on it and at the commonwealths I think I was a different player, I was a little disappointed after the team final but when we were on the podium it just felt amazing.

It was always clear that you had a talent for table tennis, but you seemed to have a rapid rise to become one of the best seniors in the country, how did that happen?

 I work hard and always believe in myself.

As you have been so dedicated to table tennis do you ever feel you missed out on a social life or growing up like a “normal” kid?

I had quite a normal life until I was 16 because I was still in full time education so it was not too bad but now I am used to not having a lot of social time because of full time Table Tennis.

Who’s been the biggest influence on your career?

Colin Deaton was a great help and his wife Sandra still is, unfortunately he couldn’t be here to see me in the England senior team, he will be greatly missed. I also have my parents to thank for all the travelling they put in, in my early career playing 4 stars.

You have had the massive victory with Gao Ning live on BBC, do you find yourself getting recognised by people now?

When I am at home I get recognized sometimes but not anywhere outside of chesterfield as of yet.

How do you cope with more people recognising you, and having a new found popularity?

It’s nice to be recognised but I am not that big yet so im still fully focused on improving.

Where do you see yourself in say, four years time?

 I see myself still playing at a high level and I am aiming to keep moving up the world rankings and possibly ill be inside the top 50 by then.
Whilst on the topic of the future, let’s move forward 15 years time. Do you still wish to be involved in Table Tennis or do you see yourself in a different career?

 I would hope to see myself still involved in table tennis.

If you still see yourself involved in Table Tennis what do you see yourself doing?

I would only be 32 so hopefully i could still be playing to a high level, if not i would like to go to coaching.

Team Mates (you can include the girls or just anyone at sheffield Darius said Rumgay for some answers etc)

Who is the biggest moaner?

Darius haha he can moan about everything

The hard man of the group?

Gavin Evans or so he thinks

Who’s the quickest?

On the table possibly me and in sprinting Paul Drinkhall

Most talented?

Paul Drinkhall he’s very sporty.

The joker/ funny man?

Gavin Rumgay with his funny banter.

Most intelligent?

Danny reed academically, me on sport knowledge.

Worst taste in music?

Gavin Evans and Chris Doran.

Worst dress sense?

 Chris Doran with his jeans and asics trainers.

Worst dancer?

Chris Doran just stands there like a tree.

Best and worse nicknames? Spidda (David Mcbeath) and Sheepy (Gavin Evans) are my favourites.

Who do you share with in hotels abroad?

 it depends who is playing, when im playing in junior tournaments normally Gavin Evans.

Do they have any annoying habits?

He rocks his head side to side when going to sleep quite loudly which can get irritating.

Who’s longest in the shower?

Andrew Baggaley

Thank you Liam and i wish you the best of luck in the future.

If you missed my previous interview with Darius Knight click here:

For more table tennis news visit:

First up in our series of Table Tennis player interviews is England international Darius Knight.

Darius is currently playing in both England and Belgium but you may recognise him as the face of Fred Perry or Nintendo.

This article includes Shouts from the Stands new feature team mates, so you the fans can find the ins and outs of the national side.

 You may have seen similar things on Football teams and I thought it would be great for you to be able to get similar coverage of your national Table Tennis team.

The answers are completely as given by the players and not changed by me at all so you get the natural feel of listening to the players thoughts.

Full Name; Darius Knight
Date Of Birth; 22.02.1990
Place Of Birth; London, Lambeth
Height; 175cm
Club(s):Montpellier, Ucam-Cartengena, York Gardens, Southfields Elite, London Progress. Currently- Deist in Belgium and Barrow TTC.

Most famous person on your mobile?

Robin van Persie or Adrian Charles.

what’s guaranteed to make you mad?

People stepping on my feet.

Best place you’ve ever been too?
Australia (Sydney)

Favourite television program?
Smallville, Naruto, Vampire diaries and Merlin.

Who was/Is your favourite Sportsman?
I have none. If it’s anyone Floyd Mayweather Jnr, I like his attitude, he talks and walks very flamboyantly.

Best film ever?
The Illusionist or Blood diamond.

What song would you sing on Stars in their eyes?
Michael Jackson – Do you remember

What’s your signature dish?
Chicken Curry with Potatoes and rice. But anything I cook is amazing 😉

Favourite drink?

 Bigga fruit punch or KA.

Career questions
You have had a lot of highs in your career what was the best moment of your career so far?    Winning my 1st European tournament was massive for me it gave me the belief that I  was actually good, from there to win European youths medals and being junior national champion. Being sponsored by Fred Perry having the Fred Perry urban cup… seeing loads of youngsters playing table tennis and me being the figure head of it is a great feeling.

What was the lowest moment?
Not playing for England in the World team Championships this year in Russia.

You have had a lot of negative press recently, how do you cope with the criticism?
Well I never get negative press, I have been the one trying to help and put table tennis on the map over the last few years. I think I’m doing a good job due to the media attention I have gained.
My focus is just to play and improve. To be honest the people talking are the ones that wish they were in the position or they cant play table tennis. The doubters just spur me on and I use them to try and make me more focused…

You moved away from home at a young age to dedicate your life to Table Tennis, was it hard leaving your home at such a young age?
It was not a problem, I would do anything for table tennis there was nothing stopping me, I am quite a confident independent person so there was no question that I was going to move, it was more like lets do it now.

Who’s been the biggest influence on your career?
My grandmother she’s always stood behind me. My first coach Gideon Ashison if it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t be here today… and of course my coach Lui Jia Yi for making me into the player i am(which we still have a lot more work to do):)

You have had the honour of advertising products for companies such as Fred Perry and Nintendo, do you find yourself being recognised in the streets now?
Well where I am from i was known before table tennis so i think when i go home people just see me and think of table tennis, they see me for me not for my family or dad or uncles I have my own name. But they know that I’ve done well and only 20 and they never expected a boy like me from Battersea to achieve so much!

Where do you see yourself in say, four years time?
4 years time I be 24 well I hope definitely in the top 100 maybe top 60 but I am maturing now on the table which this is what had stopped my progress in the past, how high I cant say as its difficult everyone on their day can play like a top 100 player…

Whilst on the topic of the future, let’s move forward 15 years time. Do you still wish to be involved in Table Tennis or do you see yourself in a different career?

 Well I would like to still think i am involved if i stay fit and strong like I am now why not… but hopefully I can build my role as a high profile athlete and trying to help young kids from where I’m from progress. I would like to help develop a centre of sport in London they have that in France loads of regional centre’s making the level of sport higher and giving younger people something to do… other than being bored committing crime.

If you still see yourself involved in Table Tennis what do you see yourself doing?

Marketing manager for the ETTA.. or coaching in London in a academy or my own academy.

Team Mates

Who is the biggest moaner?
Me probably because I’ve spoilt myself so if something is not my way I am not happy… eg food and stuff. I have high standards with food because I am such a good cook

The hard man of the group?
Andrew Rushton -He’s into all the UFC stuff and always harasses us in a joking way.

Who’s the quickest?
Paul Drinkhall over a short distance.

Most talented?
Again Paul Drinkhall

The joker/ funny man?
Myself probably because I am in a fantasy world dreaming of things talking crap and ripping people.

Who’s got the best banter?
Danny Reed with his “Funny” bad inappropriate jokes

Most intelligent?
Chris Doran- is just an archive of sums and grammar, but if we need anything or have a question we ask Danny Reed, he went to school the longest out of all of us.

Worst taste in music?

 Gavin Evans… he knows a lot of songs that are 10years old and likes Elton John.

Worst dress sense?

He’s Scottish but trains with us so I’m going to have to say Gavin Rumgay. He wears a pair of Asic trainers with jeans… Or wears a cardigan to training or a Prada coat to training he’s just pretty random.

Worst dancer?

 Gavin Rumgay… he just stands in funny positions.

Best and worse nicknames?

Smeagle (Gavin Evans) he just used to talk to himself while either being in the toilet or having a shower.
Pois (lewis gray) why, no comment you’ll have to ask him Ha.

Who’s longest in the shower?
Andrew Baggely, he just sings bout 5 songs.

First off I would like to start off this article by offering my congratulations to Paul Drinkhall on winning the Polish under 21 pro tour, regardless of where is opponents were ranked it is never easy to win an international competition.

Now his winning of this event has been branded around by the ETTA on their Facebook page and on their website as you would rightly expect, they are promoting their own player and celebrating his achievements I don’t have a problem with that.

However, I have two problems with their coverage of the recent Polish pro tour.

The first problem I have with the coverage we as fans and members of the ETTA, is that we did not hear about all the players only the successes. I am not a glory hunter and I doubt many of you are, I support my Football team whether they win, lose or draw. I would love to be able to do the same with my national Table Tennis side.

It seems that the ETTA only tend to tell you the ranking (not even exact just in the region of e.g top 150) if they are promoting a good win thus attempting to make their system of selection look justified every time.

For the record I have no problem with the selection like other bloggers, I’m just stating the problems I see with the way the ETTA provide information for their members and followers.

My other problem with the ETTA is also due to the lack of information they give on their website. Its great to hear how out players have done, but as I am sure our licence fees helped fund these players be it training or travelling to worldwide tournaments I would love detailed reports of how they have done.

I would like to be able to put these wins into perspective; it would take the writer of the article and extra five minutes to put in all the rankings of the opponents they have faced. I would like to know whether every match is an expected loss or a good win etc.

If the ETTA choose to reply to this, which they won’t (can’t blame them too many bloggers to answer them all it’s not their job) they will probably site that the article writers our volunteers or low paid so spend little time on the articles.

That excuse just does not wash with me, in the past 13 days I have created whether by myself or out sourced through a friend 13 articles all of a good standard and length. It has not been particularly difficult so I cant see why the ETTA can’t match these standards.

What do you think? Am I being too harsh on the ETTA? Are they performing the best they can on a limited budget?

Leave a comment and let me and other football lovers know what you think.

 Please read the comments from other fans and see if you agree with their points.

Check back regularly to see other fans response to your comments and to see if there are any more articles which are added almost daily.

Also if you use a social network site such as twitter or Facebook and think your friends would be interested in reading this article please re post the link as your status or as a tweet.

Also for brilliant table tennis articles and videos be sure to look at

Thank you

ETTA selections right or wrong


With the recent announcement of the English teams to compete in the European nation’s league there has been a lot of criticism of both the players selected and the selection system.

Before I start this piece I am keen to point out that this is not an attack on any of the players selected. I realise they have all worked very hard to get to the level their at and are playing at an international standard.

First of all for those who don’t know the squads are as follows:

Women: Joanna Parker, Kelly Sibley and Hannah Hicks

Men: Paul Drinkhall, Darius Knight and Liam Pitchford

For an outsider there seems to be no problem with these selections the woman’s selection is the numbers one, two and three in the rankings list and the men’s numbers one two and four.

However, many people seem to believe the England squad is a closed shop. Brilliant for the players in the frame to be selected almost impossible for anyone to break into.

There is a feeling amongst people in the sport that the selectors do not embrace change. They have their squad based at their training centre in Sheffield and very rarely vary from it.

This seems to be the problem the squads seem to be selected based on the people who have shown the dedication to move to the national training centre and given up on any other form of life. This is surely wrong the squad should be selected on ability.

If the ETTA will insist on doing this, why do they not invite the top 20 to train at the centre on a regular basis if you choose not to turn up then you can have no argument. The coaches are being paid to be there whether they coach 2 or 20 people.

 I understand players have commitments to clubs abroad for matches, but I am sure many clubs abroad would not stop a player from going home to train and compete for the chance to represent their country. The training in theory should still be top notch as it is with the best players the country can offer.

Many believe the reason these players are the top of the ranking lists is because you get more ranking points for playing international matches than you do for playing domestically.

As these players are the only ones playing in these international fixtures they are the only ones that can get this higher tariff of ranking points. Making it impossible for the “chasing pack” to get recognised.

So our current system makes it easy for the people at the top to get further ahead thus justifying their selections as they are the highest in the ranking lists.

One thought is that the English ranking lists excludes ranking points earned abroad. This would both make the system fairer for the outsiders and encourage the top players to ply their trade in England thus raising the standard of the country as a whole.

Now without bringing up any names as I don’t want to take the honour of being selected to represent their nation from any of the players, I can think of at least three players who are of the level to be selected but seem to never get the chance.

Some may disagree that no one else is good enough to be included in this squad, whilst others will blame the system what’s your view?

Do you agree with this England squad or the selection process?

Please discuss.

Please read the comments from my other fans and see if you agree with their points.

Also if you use a social network site such as twitter or facebook and think your friends would be interested in reading this article please re post the link as your status or as a tweet. Thank you

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