Table Tennis: Paul Drinkhall targets Rio after London 2012 exit
Monday 30 July 2012
Great Britain table tennis star Paul Drinkhall immediately set himself the target of qualifying by right for the next Olympic Games after being knocked out of the singles in London.
The 22-year-old has thrilled the crowds in London over the last two days, with yesterday's shock victory over Singapore's Yang Zi one he will savour.
Drinkhall eventually slipped out at the third-round stage.
He was never able to get to grips with German world number 12 Dimitrij Ovtcharov's awkward style and lost 4-0, the German taking the games 11-8, 11-5, 11-9, 11-4.
Drinkhall's Games is not over, however, with the team event set to begin on Friday when he will be joined by Liam Pitchford and Andrew Baggaley.
Having had to utilise an allocated host nation spot after failing to qualify off his own back for London, Drinkhall insists work to ensure he earns place at Rio de Janeiro in four years' time will begin immediately.
"Here and in the past, I have proved I can compete with the best players," he said. "I have beaten some top players.
"My win yesterday was a good result and doing that on a big stage like the Olympics proves that I can beat those sorts of players.
"Today was a bit of a different level again, but training starts now, or after the team event, for Rio. I am pretty sure and confident that I will be there."
While Drinkhall's efforts have been a little surprising, they have merely represented a continuation of recent success.
Having endured a spell in the wilderness, he has got back to his best in recent months and recently broke into the world's top 100 again.
Drinkhall slipped out of it ahead of the Games, but seemingly has better years ahead in his career.
"Since Christmas, I have really pushed myself," he added. "I have lost quite a bit of weight and feel a lot better for it.
"Unfortunately, it did not all click today; it is really difficult against him and today was not my day."
Drinkhall once again paid tribute to a raucous crowd at the ExCeL Arena, who have proved a constant source of inspiration.
"The crowd were great again today," he added. "They were trying to get behind me and trying to spur me on.
"They did help me and hopefully they will be back for the team event."
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