Sheffield pair relishing Olympics games atmosphere

Olympics: News, reports and more from London 2012.
Olympics: News, reports and more from London 2012.
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SHEFFIELD table tennis pair Paul Drinkhall and Joanna Parker romped to victory against Ibrahem Al-Hasan and Caroline Kumahara respectively as the Olympics got underway this weekend.

The duo, who entered the event by using host nation qualification places as they failed to secure a place off their own back - got off to a perfect start at the ExCeL Arena.

The chances of either being in the medal hunt are remote to say the least, but the manner of the duo’s wins - and the nature of the home support - does at least give cause for excitement.

“Both of us coming through 4-0 was amazing,” enthused Drinkhall yesterday.

“For table tennis, the crowd is absolutely amazing.

“I have never experienced anything like it. I played in the Albert Hall in front of a few thousand but it was more of an exhibition tournament.”

Unlike Parker, who admitted to being nervous early on, Drinkhall felt immediately at ease in such a setting.

“Beforehand I did not know what to expect because I have never played in front of a crowd this big before,” he admitted.

“I was surprised by how relaxed I was. I prepared myself to be more nervous, but I felt free because I knew I had prepared the best I can.

“When I saw Jo after her match she had a big smile on her face and told me how amazing it was.

“They have probably never seen or heard of me before but as soon as they saw the GB shirt, they started shouting and screaming. I loved it and cannot wait to play again tomorrow.”

Drinkhall and Parker, who live together in Sheffield, were favourites yesterday, while in round two today they took the underdogs tag as they meet higher-ranked opposition.