5:20pm Thursday 8th March 2012
By Graham Moody
Darius Knight is going full steam ahead in his quest to make this summer’s London Olympics.
The 22-year-old from Wandsworth has been living a regimented regime in Austria for the past three months as he looks to make the transition from promising table tennis youngster to full blown world-class senior.
The first signs of improvement came at last week’s English National Championships, where he reached the semi-finals in the senior men’s competition for the first time since 2008 and also won both senior men’s doubles and mixed doubles titles.
There are three spots for British men at the Games, with Knight vying against Paul Drinkhall, Liam Pitchford, Daniel Reed and Andrew Baggaley to compete in the summer, and he believes his dedication to training is reaping dividends.
“A lot of people that have seen me over the years will say I should be better than I am now,” he said.
“I have the talent and ability but needed to get the focus.
“I got fed up of the same structure every day in England – we don’t have much funding and it is quite expensive living there.
“Moving to Austria is just one of the things I had to do to become the table tennis player I want to be and reach my full potential.
“Everything I do now is going toward the sport, I am trying to achieve my goals.
“I know I am in Austria for table tennis and I have not been out socially there.
“It is a repetitive system I have and that’s something that has been missing for a while in my training.
“I had to make the move if I wanted to be somebody achieving results and being thought of as a world player, not just from England but as a world player.”
Knight dropped only one game in three matches to set up a semi-final with Drinkhall on Sunday, which he lost 4-2 having clawed it back to 2-2 from 2-0 down.
He got revenge by beating Drinkhall and Pitchford 3-1 in the men’s doubles final with partner Reed, and also took the mixed doubles title with Kelly Silbey by beating Chris Doran and Hannah Hicks 3-0.
Despite his success though, he was left contemplating what might have been.
“The last few years I have not played my best table tennis at the nationals so it is good to get back on top and performing how I used to perform,” he said.
“I have won numerous other titles expect for the male seniors but I am getting closer.
“I was leading against Paul but I lost a little bit of focus when I had that lead as I thought I was OK, but clearly I wasn’t. I let him out of jail.”
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