SAM Walker may not be heading to the Olympic Games later this year, but 2012 will still hold some exciting challenges for the table tennis star.
The teenager, who is based in Hanau, Germany, believes his game has improved thanks to his time with TG Langenselbold and is looking forward to competing all over Europe this year.
Sweden, France, Czech Republic and Austria are all on Walker’s schedule for this year, and he already has one eye on the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
Speaking during his Christmas training break at home in Worksop, he told the Guardian: “Next month I’m playing in the Swedish Open, and then probably the Czech Open and French Open, and the big tournament in July the European Youth Championships.”
“I didn’t make the long list for this year’s Olympics so I’m looking further down the line. I’m a bit young for this year anyway.”
“I’m looking at the Commonwealth Games in 2014 and the next Olympics after that.”
The youngster moved to Germany last year, in an attempt to up his game alongside world class players.
After a tough start to life away from his family, he’s finding his feet.
“Training every day with top class players has definitely improved my game a lot in terms of my technique and moving a lot quicker,” he said.
“I can’t slack off any point against them, I have to put 100 per cent effort in to make the balls.”
“It’s been difficult, the first couple of months were a bit lonely because I couldn’t speak the language and didn’t know anyone.”
“But it’s definitely worth it, my German is getting better and I live with three others who train at the club and I’ve made new friends.”
“I can ring mum and dad when I want to speak to them, of course I miss everyone at home but this is what I want to do.”
Walker has recently been in international action for his country, getting to the last 32 in Germany and the last 16 in Portugal.
Despite being far from Worksop, he’s still grateful to local support for helping him progress in the sport.
“Notts County Council have helped me with the Rising Stars funding, that has helped a lot,” he added.