Currently a prominent figure in the ITTF top 30 players in the men’s singles division, Britain-born Liam Pitchford has had somewhat of a relentless pursuit for the world’s top spots. He was ranked position 959 globally in the early stages of his career, and the world has only seen this star grow since then. His current highest-ever ranking is 12th globally, a position he held in August 2019. Also, a case could be made that Liam is one of the most successful British ping-pong players of all time. So, what more is there to know about the 29-year-old East Midlands resident? Keep reading to find out.
Born on July 23rd in Chesterfield, England, Liam’s ping pong story starts at eight years old. That said, his professional playing career started taking off around 2008 when he broke into the top 1000 players globally. Back then, he was ranked 959th in the world.
Just a year later, he would win his first British Home Countries Championship while playing for the Aarhus BTK club in the Danish top-flight league. In 2010 he added two medals to his collection by winning the silver in the team’s category alongside a bronze medal in the doubles at the Commonwealth games.
By this time, he had moved to FC Tegernheim, a second-division German club from where he made the jump to Germany’s top division, the Bundesliga, as part of a move to the TTF Liebherr Ochsenhausen ping pong club in 2011.
In the same year, Pitchford showed the world he could beat the ninth-ranked player back then, Vladimir Samsonov. 2012 also saw Liam take the game to the World junior number three player Wu Jiaji, a feat which put him at the top of the English rankings. This was backed by the fact that he was the highest-ranking British player on the ITTF rankings at position 171.
At the time, 171 was also the third-highest ranking achieved by a British player. This was one of the reasons he made the Great Britain team for the 2012 Olympics hosted in his home country. While he didn’t take home any medals from the global event, he placed 9th alongside other countrymen in the team event.
Notably, while this was his first Olympics, it certainly wasn’t his last.
By July 2014, TTF Liebherr Ochsenhausen had seen enough quality in him to want to extend his contract and add three more years. In the same year, his participation in the British team allowed them to qualify for the World Team Championships in Japan.
He also represented his country at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth games, where he got silver in the team competition. His participation in the doubles event got him another silver medal, while he only managed a bronze in the men’s singles.
2014 also marks the first year Liam Pitchford broke into the world’s top 50 rankings earning a 44th-place position near the end of the year.
In 2015 he got up to the round of 32 in the World Table Tennis Championships in the event that saw him beat heavy hitters like Kalinikos Kreanga and Tiago Apolonia. By then, Kreanga had been a two-time World Cup runner-up, while Apolonia was ranked 20th worldwide.
In 2016 the England team consisted of Pitchford, Sam walker, and Paul Drinkhall and won bronze at the Malaysia World Team Championships, a feat that had proved impossible for the country since 1983. Liam Pitchford also participated in the Rio Olympics held later that year, reaching the round of 32 in the singles event.
He got as far as the quarterfinals in the team event alongside teammates Sam Walker and Paul Drinkhall. 2017 saw him win India’s Ultimate Table Tennis League.
As for 2018, he was part of the English squad that won bronze in the ITTF Team World Cup. He would also win the Australian Commonwealth games doubles segment, get silver in the mixed doubles, and bronze in the team competition.
2018 was also the year Liam beat Ma Long, widely considered one of the game’s greatest players of all time, with an 89%-win rate to date. That said, he didn’t make it past Long’s teammate Ma Te.
In the following year, Liam made it as far as the round of 16 in the Austrian open. He followed up in 2020 with quite a successful campaign at the Qatar open that saw him lose a final to the current highest-ranking player Fan Zhendong.
Pitchford and teammate Paul Drinkhall also made it to the doubles final before losing to the Chinese team’s Ma Long and Xu Xin duo.
As for the 2020 Olympics held in 2021, it was a bit of a disappointment, with Pitchford ending up 17th for the second such tournament in a row in the men’s singles. However, one reason this may have happened was an injury he picked up earlier in the year.
It’s also worth noting that Trusted SourceLiam Pitchford feeling in ‘much better place’ after mental health struggles When Liam Pitchford sunk world number one Xu Xin in the semi-finals of the Qatar Open in March 2020, he could scarcely have comprehended the coming cataclysm that would turn his career and the entire sporting world upside down. www.countytimes.co.uk at this time, something that he’d experienced on and off since 2016.
2022 has seen Pitchford Trusted SourceCommonwealth Games Liam Pitchford wins table tennis silver Wales Charlotte Carey Anna Hursey bronze BBC Sport Englands Liam Pitchford has to settle for silver in the men’s singles table tennis final at the Commonwealth Games. www.bbc.com title with Paul Drinkhall. He’s also gotten silver, with the only person he had left to beat being India’s Sharath Kamal Achanta. Finally, with teammates Sam Walker, Drinkhall, and 23-year-old Tom Jarvis, he won the bronze medal at the event as well.
At the end of December 2022, he was ranked 24th in the world, although he got as high as 13th place at the beginning of the year. Also, his success on the court has translated into other areas of his life, with the athlete worth an estimated $5 million, which is pretty decent for a 29-year-old.
Earlier in his career, he may have had Pitchy as his nickname, but this has changed as he’s gotten older. Also, he spends his free time golfing or playing football. As for his height and weight, he stands at 6 ft 1 in and weighs 150 lbs.
Regarding career achievements, Liam has quite a few to his name, including his three qualifications for the Olympics. Notably, he hasn’t returned from any of these tournaments with a medal. However, given that he’s only 29, he should have at least one more stab at the Olympics before he retires.
He’s also held the spot for the highest-ranked British player for a couple of years. The fact that he’s also been ranked 12th in the world at some point in 2019 is also proof of his pedigree as a ping-pong player.
There’s also the matter of the several medals he’s collected over the years in singles, doubles, and team events.
Liam Pitchford has a total of 13 medals to his name. Six are bronze, five are silver, and two are gold, as listed below:
Given Liam is a professional player, he has the best equipment at his disposal, including shoes, blades, nets, etc., and it may be impossible to match his toolset as a hobby player. For instance, you may be limited to a table tennis conversion top and a retractable net due to space constraints in the home.
For those who already have a table to work with, only a paddle set remains for games between you and your friends or family members. According to reviews, the NIBIRU SPORT Ping Pong Paddles Set works great for beginners, provides multiple pads for different players, and even sneaks a retractable net into the package.
Nevertheless, since he doesn’t choose the table, net, or court at competitive games, the few things he has control over include the blades and rubbers. Currently, he uses the Victas Liam Pitchford blade, characterized by exceptional speed and high levels of spin and control as well.
Not everyone can get a Victas Liam Pitchford blade especially given its high price tag. However, if you still want something high quality for your money, here’s a list of our best table tennis blades at different price points.
Liam pairs his Victas blade with a Victas V15 Extra on both the forehand and backhand. Like the blade, these rubbers prioritize speed, although they’re also pretty well-rounded in the spin and control areas.
Naturally, if you get similarly high-end rubbers, you will also want to take care of them. For this job, reviewers recommend the Butterfly Table Tennis Racket Care Kit, which comes with cleaner tips, a cleaner sponge, and a cleaner that makes most of your cleaning and maintenance tasks much easier.
Pitchford’s socials include profiles on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, with a huge following in some of them. On Instagram, for instance, he has over 29,000 followers, and you can join them by following @liam_pitchford93. On Twitter, his profile is @liampitchford, while on Facebook, it’s Liam Pitchford with a verified check mark next to it.
In conclusion, Liam Pitchford has cemented his place as one of the British greats in ping pong with a few more years of his career left. We could very well see him reach the top ten depending on how he plays from here on. Also, it remains to be seen whether he’ll participate in the 2024 Paris Olympics and, if so, how he’ll perform on that grand stage for his fourth time.