She watched on with bated breath as husband Paul battled against the world’s best table tennis stars at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, but Jo Drinkhall will soon be back playing alongside him after announcing her return to the sport.
The three-time national women’s singles champion took an extended break from table tennis to welcome their children Dougie and Bonnie into the world, after topping the podium alongside her spouse at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
But she will be back in action at next month’s PG Mutual National Championships in Nottingham playing alongside her husband - who became only the third Brit in history to reach the last 16 stage of the men’s singles in Rio – in the mixed doubles, as well as with regular partner Kelly Sibley in the women’s.
In addition to her three singles triumphs, 29-year-old Drinkhall - who competed at the London 2012 Olympic Games - has also won six women’s double titles alongside Sibley, including five in a row from 2010, but she admits a singles return is not on the cards just yet.
"It's kind of exciting but nerve-wracking at the same time. It's a world I know extremely well but it seems a lifetime ago that I was competing, even though it's not,” she said.
"Hopefully I will enjoy it and do okay. It would be nice to win something but realistically I'm not sure - I've got two pretty good partners though, so you never know!
"I'm not ready for singles yet but I'd like to think so one day. When I look too far into the future it's a bit daunting but when I look bit by bit, it's more reasonable. So I'm not going to look too far into the future but will take it step by step.
"The main thing is I keep enjoying it. I've had such a good career and wouldn't want to do anything I'm not ready for.
"My priority is still my children as they are very young and depend on me. I'm not back to full-time playing but this is a start. It should be interesting!"
The PG Mutual Nationals take place from March 3-5 at the University of Nottingham – buy your tickets here.
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