Paul Drinkhall revealed he has a secret weapon after cruising into the European Games men’s singles semi-finals – his bouncing new baby boy.
On May 21 Drinkhall’s fellow table tennis playing wife Joanna gave birth to the couple’s first child – Douglas.
And fatherhood certainly appears to agree with Drinkhall as Thursday saw him beat Slovenian Bojan Tokic 4-2 first-up, before seeing off Portugal’s Marcos Freitas 4-1 latter in the afternoon.
The second victory was particularly pleasing as not only did it set up a semi-final clash with German Dimitrij Ovtcharov but it also came against a player ranked in the world’s top ten.
And after recording one of the best wins of his career, Drinkhall admitted the result had all been down to Douglas.
“It's an amazing win really, I did beat him last time but that was the tournament of my life and I managed to bring my form into this match,” he said.
“I think my style really suits it against him and it's an amazing win and I'm very happy with myself.
“It's up there [with the best wins] and hopefully I can pull out another good performance in the next round.
“I'm quite relaxed, I've just had a baby boy Douglas and I keep thinking about him during the games and it brings me back down and makes me focused on winning the game and doing the best that I can.
“Hopefully I can continue this form and keep providing for the little man.”
Liam Pitchford also won his opening match on Thursday as he put Slovakian Yang Wang to the sword 4-2, but he was unable to follow Drinkhall into the semi-finals as he lost to Lei Kou of Ukraine next up.
“I didn’t feel like I played my game out there,
“I think the main difference was my receive,” Pitchford said. “I didn’t receive as I have been doing and he served quite well and after that I couldn’t get into the rallies.
“He was just on his game and I wasn’t. I have learned a lot and I know I can get far in these tournaments, I am just disappointed to lose in the quarter-finals but I will take a lot from it and I will learn from it and it will spur me on and hopefully I can qualify for Rio.”
© Sportsbeat 2015