Drinkhall performance gives hope for the future

12 August 2012 / 13:17

English Table Tennis Association chief executive Richard Yule is hoping the London 2012 Olympics lives up to its mantra of inspiring a generation.

Team GB have exceeded expectations in the sport, mainly due to Paul Drinkhall reaching the men's singles third round by virtue of victory over Singapore's Zi Yang.

Yule is determined to ensure that success proves a catalyst for greater things, namely ensuring British players cause a splash in the next Olympics at Rio de Janeiro.

Just qualifying, however, would represent an achievement after Drinkhall et al had to utilise host nation places to compete in London.

"From a playing point of view, we exceeded our target with UK Sport," Yule said.

"That was down to Paul Drinkhall, who got through to the last 32. The team has played as we expected, except for Drinkhall. He had a very good win and will probably rise up the rankings as a result.

"Our team is quite a young one and we are targeting qualification by right for Rio.

"We do not just want to qualify either. We want to be reaching the last 32 or last 16. I am very confident we can do that.

"Liam (Pitchford) and Paul will only be 24 and 26, so it is very realistic. Our guys have to really make their move in the next four years."

Those who partook in this year's showpiece will surely be all the more keen to do so after being roared on by a raucous home crowd at the ExCeL Arena.

Each player was afforded quite incredible ovations - something that was not lost on Yule, who believes the Games has built a platform from which British table tennis can grow.

"The crowd and the whole organisation have been tremendous and a real credit to table tennis," he added.

"I think a lot of people who have come to table tennis for the first time have really enjoyed it and that has been shown by the reaction of the crowd.

"It has been a great promotion because we have had a few thousand new people in every session, getting exposure to the sport at this level.

"People have told us the crowd have been impressed by the spectacle. You can only imagine what it is like for the British guys contesting for a medal.

"I think that will have been great for our own players who have seen what is possible."

While success at Rio remains Yule's long-term target, he also has an eye on the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow two years from now.

"I am sure there will be a similar reaction there from the crowd," he said.

"In that tournament, of course, we have got a real chance of winning medals - as we have done in the past."