Drinkhall wants to qualify his own way

04 May 2012 / 13:24

Great Britain's best table tennis player Paul Drinkhall is out to earn the respect of the public as he enters the last-chance saloon in his efforts to qualify for the London Olympics off his own back.

Drinkhall, ranked 97th in the world, is almost certain of a place in the showpiece as table tennis has been given permission to utilise host nation qualification places.

Yet the prospect of becoming the first Briton to reach the Games since Matthew Syed in 2000 without using those is more appealing to the 22-year-old, who impressed in the recent European qualification tournament.

He has a final opportunity to do just that at Doha having been selected among a six-person squad for the Final World Olympic Qualification Tournament.

"I want to qualify in my own right," he told Press Association Sport. "I do not want to just be given it because it (the Olympics) is in London.

"It would be absolutely great for not only me, but also British table tennis if I could do that. Hopefully, if somebody could qualify by right, it would help with the funding.

"We would also hopefully get a little more respect from the public. If people are just getting given spaces, there may not be as much publicity as there would be if somebody got there themselves and earned the right to be there."

Drinkhall got through the initial group stages in Luxembourg last month, but having failed in the main draw, was also unable to earn the spots available in the repechage.

He added: "I was not playing very well in Luxembourg but still managed to get through the groups and go well. I felt that adrenaline while I was there really spurred me on and, even though I was not at my best, I was still able to pick up some wins.

"I am delighted they have decided to send a squad to Doha because it did not look like they were going to. I am playing a lot better now and I have already beaten some of the players that have qualified. That gives me a lot of confidence heading to Doha."