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Paul Drinkhall reflected on a 'professional job' after playing an integral role in Team England’s men getting their Birmingham 2022 table tennis campaign off to a winning start.
A veteran of the Commonwealth Games, the 32-year-old from Middlesbrough contributed two wins to a dominant 3-0 victory against Guyana in the men’s team competition.
Drinkhall started his campaign alongside Tom Jarvis in the doubles rubber, defeating Christopher Franklin and Joel Alleyne comfortably 11-5 11-2 11-6 to get his country's first point on the board.
He then locked horns again with Alleyne in the final singles rubber, prevailing 11-3 11-7 11-4 to complete the whitewash for Team England in their Group 1 match at the NEC.
But despite the commanding nature of his two victories, Drinkhall refused to get ahead of himself as he looks to add to his collection of six Commonwealth Games medals.
“It was a good match. For the first one you’re just getting settled into the venue, the tournament and everything going on so it’s good to get through that and get it out of the way,” said Drinkhall, who is one of more than 1,100 elite athletes on UK Sport’s National Lottery-funded World Class Programme, allowing them to train full time, have access to the world’s best coaches and benefit from pioneering technology, science and medical support.
“I think we all did a professional job. I suppose in a way the pressure was slightly different (due to expectation) but not really, you’re only as good as whoever you’re playing at the time.
“So, it’s irrelevant really whether you are expected to win or not, you go out and do what you can. You’ve done the training and everything else, now you just have to enjoy the matches.
“It was nice to have my parents here. They’ve obviously seen me play before but not for quite a while and hopefully we keep winning and get to the later stages, with that home support.”
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Drinkhall was rested for the evening session as Team England’s men made it two wins from two in Group 1 with another comprehensive 3-0 rout against Fiji to sit top of the group.
His morning partner Jarvis was back in action, though, winning the doubles rubber with Sam Walker before defeating Vicky Wu in his singles rubber to complete a perfect start to his debut.
Speaking about teaming up with Drinkhall and fellow Team England star Liam Pitchford, Jarvis added: “We have done a lot of practice together, we’ve played the odd tournament here and there, and we’ve done a lot of doubles preparation in the lead-up to this.”
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