In the last year, British table tennis ambassador Paul Drinkhall has enjoyed huge success.
The dramatic final of the May World Team Championships in Tokyo saw Drinkhall beat Thomas Keinath 3-0 in the deciding game. The stakes were high, but the cool-headed player’s win secured the team’s promotion to the first division – a feat unmatched in the last 17 years.
A few months later, the champ sealed two more medals at the 2014 Commonwealth Games. He and his wife Joanna Drinkhall claimed gold in the mixed doubles final, beating fellow English pair Liam Pitchford and Tin-Tin Ho. Paul also achieved silver status in the Glasgow team event.
The ping pong legend appeared to be on an unbeatable winning streak, however, he was not so lucky in the most recent Lisbon-based European Games. The team were looking for a repeat performance in Portugal, hoping to move from the Challenge division to the top tier Championship Division and confirm a place in the European Games in Baku. Unfortunately, after making it through the group stages of the event, the men’s team were knocked out in the play-offs.
Drinkhall admitted his frustration; however, he clearly looks to take strength from the experience too. He views the defeat as a learning tool which will fuel the team to press on and advance their game. He said: “It’s a disappointment, especially for me as I don’t think I played near my level except in patches. But we’ll come back. We don’t want to let it affect us, but it’s a warning that we need to stay focused and look to improve and keep moving forward.”
The roaring success of our British table tennis competitors has been a hugely positive influence on the game as a whole. The increased media coverage and high morale inspired by wins has sent the popularity of the sport rocketing to new heights. This enhanced interest is fantastic news for the game. In order to maintain a high standard, the game needs young up and coming players to push through and represent the UK at professional level. Who knows, any one of you rising stars could be the next player to enjoy remarkable Drinkhall-style success!
A great way to add depth to your game is to practise in a range of environments, training yourself to become adept at handling a variety of conditions. A great way to do this is to play outdoors, which brings fresh challenges to the table. Head down to your local outdoor ping pong table – they’re popping up all over the place – to try out new techniques and take your game to the next level!