Olympics: The fun and Games begin for Andrew Baggaley in athletes’ village

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ANDREW Baggaley is having the time of his life in the Olympic Village, and after being drawn against Portugal in the first round of the table tennis team competition, is more confident than ever of causing a big upset at London 2012.

Wednesday’s draw was kind to 13th seeds Team GB as they not only missed the sport’s big guns in the opening round, but will also avoid playing reigning champions China until the final, should they upset the odds and progress that far. However, they will face either North Korea or South Korea if they make it through to the quarter finals.

Portugal, ranked eighth in the competition, will still provide a major test for Baggaley and team-mates Paul Drinkhall and Liam Pitchford, but the man from Milton Keynes says he is enjoying a great spell of form and is confident of reaching the last eight at least.

“They’re a good team to play against,” he said. “To be honest I was almost certain that we were going to be drawn against one of the top four, so we should be happy with Portugal.

“We’ll scare them. We’re going to play an attacking style and treat every game like a final. What will be will be. We have nothing to lose.”

The British trio enjoyed a routine 4-1 victory against Australia in a friendly game earlier this week, with Baggaley winning his singles tie after teaming up with Pitchford for a comfortable doubles success.

That pair returned home from the Commonwealth Games in Delhi two years ago with men’s doubles bronze and team silver, giving Baggaley confidence that he and his partner from Chesterfield can work their magic once again at the ExCel Arena next Friday.

“I think the doubles match is going to be pivotal,” said the 29-year-old. “Portugal have one of the best doubles pairings in Europe and we’ll have to play to the best of our ability.

“The doubles match comes right in the middle of the best of five game and I think whoever wins that will be going through.

“But we’re confident we can do that. The Australia game was good for a little confidence boost and we’ve been training really well. Pitchford and I had never played together before India and we won bronze there, so we’re in good shape.”

Away from the practice table, Baggaley is loving life in the Olympic Village this week – soaking up the atmosphere and mingling with athletes from other countries.

“I’m taking lots of pictures,” he said. “Of course you’re never going to forget this place but I want to make sure I remember as much as possible.

“The place is massive. It’s fantastic – just like I knew it would be. Each country has its own area. I’m sharing an apartment with Darius Knight. It’s good, he’s a good laugh.

“I’m used to staying in holding camps before competitions but this place is so big, I keep getting lost, especially when it’s dark! But everyone is really nice and friendly, and you just say hello to everyone.

“I’ve seen people I recognise, but I haven’t seen any big names yet. That might change after the Opening Ceremony. I can’t wait for that, it’s going to be an incredible spectacle and I’m proud to be going.”