Decent draws for table tennis duo

25 July 2012 / 20:36

Team GB's table tennis stars have been buoyed by favourable draws at the London 2012 Olympics.

Paul Drinkhall and Joanna Parker are the only Brits competing in the singles events after table tennis was allowed to utilise host nation qualification places. That meant Team GB could send one representative for the men's and women's individual tournaments and three-strong groups for the team versions.

The singles get under way on Saturday, with Drinkhall drawn against either Ibrahem Al-Hasan of Kuwait or Congo's Saheed Idowu - who will battle it out in the preliminary round.

"It is a great draw for me and the rest of Team GB," he said in an official Team GB statement. "If we had been offered this before the draw was done we would have been really happy to take it. I played the Kuwaiti five years ago and he has had a good run recently and is clearly on form. But it is still a great opportunity for me."

Parker, who is Drinkhall's girlfriend, enjoyed an equally favourable draw at the ExCel Arena on Wednesday; she awaits the winner of Brazilian Caroline Kumahara's clash with Djibouti's Yasmin Hassan Farah.

In the team events, which begin on August 3, Parker will be joined by Kelly Sibley and Na Liu while Drinkhall will line up alongside Andrew Baggaley and Liam Pitchford. The women will face North Korea and the men Portugal, the lowest ranked of the top eight seeds.

Drinkhall echoed the sentiments of women's coach Alan Cooke in admitting the draw had favoured the host nation's teams. He said: "In the team event, our ranking meant we would get a top eight team and Portugal were ranked eighth so it couldn't have been any better."

Cooke, meanwhile, told Press Association Sport: "The men (in the team event) have got as good a draw as they could have hoped. The girls' draw was always going to be very tough; we have seen the North Korean girls on the circuit but we do not know a huge amount about them.

"If Paul and Joanna play well in the singles, they have definitely got chances. The disadvantage is they get an extra match, but that gives us a chance to have a closer look at our opponents. We have no complaints. The draw is pretty good for both Paul and Joanna."