ADPP Speaks to Team GB’s, Andrew Baggaley 04/7/12

AfterDark PingPong managed to sneak an interview in with Great Britain’s 2nd highest ranked man AND recently selected Olympian, Andrew Baggaley. Andrew and Team GB just returned from his pre-olympics training camp in China, and we were keen to find out how it went. We discussed his future after the Olympics and his very successful last 12 months in the sport.


ADPP’s Conor Haynes with Team GB’s Andrew Baggaley

Hi Andrew, Thank you for taking the time to chat with AfterDark PingPong! I know our readers will be keen to know how your month long training camp in China went? 
“It’s a pleasure! It was fantastic training, with a lot of different playing styles to practice against. We were playing about 5-6 hours a day, 6 days a week. It also included multi-ball every day and physical training which made the trip excellent preparation for London 2012 and next season! The major difficulty was not being able to eat the meat as it was a possibility that it could contain banned substances (from the farmers feed in China) and therefore come up in drug testing. Basically, lots of chicken and noodles for me!”

Now before we discuss the upcoming games, let’s take a look back on what was a very impressive year for you as an individual player. You made it all the way into the final 16 at the Hungarian open and took some big scalps on route. Do you see that tournament as one of your most successful on the world tour?
“Yes, last season was a good year for me and the ITTF World Tour Hungarian Open was the best World Tour / Pro Tour of my career so far.. but I have much more to come and it’s important to note I have only regularly competed on the ITTF Pro Tour / World Tour for 2 years which is a very encouraging as I am now close to the top 100 in the World.”

Andrew Baggaley with London 2012 Olympic Mascot

You subsequently lost your next match to the world number 4 Xu Xin- and although you were unable to get past Xu, the experience must have been valuable and it I can imagine it did wonders for your game?
“Xu Xin is arguably the best player in world on his day and I had just won a 7 setter from the brink of defeat therefore I am proud of how I competed in that match. Amazingly, he is only the second Chinese national team player (in singles) I have ever played and thoroughly believe I have a chance to beat anybody. Everybody is human and everybody is beatable!”

Now, congratulations are in order as you have just signed for SV Plunderhausen who are in the highly competitive Bundesliga in Germany! What were your main reasons for moving from your French Pro B League team, Fontenay US?
“I’ve had two good seasons in France representing Fontenay in Paris and the previous season I played for Nice in the French Pro A. Obviously, a move to Europe’s strongest and most professional league is important financially and for my continued progression in the world game. It will mean world class matches every week and it is even more special as my brother Stephen is a Men’s team Coach at the club for next season!”

And how is your German?!
“Not very good!!! I am fluent in Spanish after my 5 year spell in DKV Borges in Catalonia, but I don’t think that will help much in Germany!”

Moving onto the most important topic of all! The Olympics are now just 30 days away and you were recently quoted in your BBC interview that you believe that team GB can come away from the games with a medal. Where do you see our greatest chance coming from; the singles or the team event?
“I honestly believe that as a team there is a slight chance of a medal in the Men’s Team event if everybody plays the tournament of their careers! You MUST believe as a sportsman that you have a chance and I certainly do!”
(For the full BBC Interview:Click here)

And Paul Drinkhall was selected for the individual event, with only one guaranteed spot (outside of qualifying) for team GB, are you disappointed that you were not chosen? (Given your history of beating big names players over the years!)
“I am not disappointed I wasn’t chosen for the Men’s Singles Host Nation selection but I am VERY proud to represent Team GB and be a London 2012 Olympian! Both myself and Paul were only 1 match away from qualifying directly into the Men’s Singles competition and I believe all 3 Men’s players had a very strong case to play in the Men’s singles event.”

Finally, over the years you have had sported a rather bright set of highlights from time to time! Have you got anything fun planned for your ‘barnet’ for the games?
“It’s good of you to notice my differing hair styles! I have nothing extreme planned for London 2012 apart from trying to peak for the event on the table but if your readers can come up with a few suggestions you never know!?!?”

Thanks very much for your time Andrew! ADPP wishes you the best of luck in the upcoming games!

Discussion Point
ADPP met up with Andrew Baggaley at the London Premier of ‘Ping Pong’ and at the event we suggested a hairstyle for him! We suggested he put blonde highlights in the shape of the olympic rings! Do you have any suggestions for how Andrew should do his hair?! You can get hold of us on our Twitter, Facebook or e-mails. Comment, Like, Tweet or e-mail!

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