Olympic24: Drinkhall and Pitchford confirmed for Rio; Gold for Murdoch on medal-filled night of swimming for GB

Olympic24: Drinkhall and Pitchford confirmed for Rio; Gold for Murdoch on medal-filled night of swimming for GB

20 May 2016 / 06:52

Liam Pitchford and Paul Drinkhall have been given the nod for Rio as Team GB’s two table tennis representatives, while Ross Murdoch claimed a superb gold at the European Aquatics Championships. Here’s our review of the last 24 hours:

  • Paul Drinkhall insists he and Liam Pitchford can take on the world’s best after they had their spot on the flight to Brazil confirmed
  • Ross Murdoch stars on night of swimming silverware for Great Britain
  • Rio-bound sailor Nick Thompson thrilled with his progress after winning his second straight Laser World Championship title
  • Phil Burgess is desperate for England to thrill a home crowd at Twickenham this weekend as the Sevens World Series draws to a close
  • Canoe star Ed McKeever will miss Olympics after falling just short in qualifying

Drinkhall and Pitchford heading to Rio


Team GB will have two table tennis representatives at this summer's Olympic Games with Liam Pitchford and Paul Drinkhall given the nod to head to Rio.

Both players qualified two quota places for Team GB through the International Table Tennis Federation ranking system and will compete in the men's singles competition.

It is not the first Olympic outing for the pair with both having appeared at London 2012 – although this is the first time they have qualified a spot outright.

Pitchford and Drinkhall have accumulated plenty of international experience, winning nine Commonwealth Games medals between them, and this year helped England to bronze at the World Team Championships.

Drinkhall said: “It's been at the back of our minds almost since London and during the last 12 months it's really been the main aim to make sure we qualify.

“I speak for everyone that we don't just want to qualify and go there – we believe we can take on the world's best. London was amazing but, table tennis-wise, it was slightly too early for both of us.

“We're in a much better place now and hopefully we can go there and do some damage and make Team GB proud.”

Murdoch claims gold as GB win five medals at Europeans


Ross Murdoch was the toast of Great Britain on day four of the European Aquatics Championships in London as the hosts claimed an impressive five medals.

Jazz Carlin got the medal rush underway as she claimed 800m freestyle silver, while that was the same colour that Siobhan-Marie O’Connor collected in the 200m individual medley.

In the same race as O’Connor was Hannah Miley and she claimed a bronze medal, before Murdoch picked up gold in the 200m breaststroke.

Great Britain weren’t done there as Kathleen Dawson won bronze in the 100m backstroke, but there was no doubting who the star of the show was.

“I’m so happy with that,” said Murdoch, who will make his Olympic debut in Rio later this year. “I never imagined to win a gold medal here so I’m absolutely delighted.

“I could see Marco [Koch] creeping up on me and I knew I just had to keep my length and stay disciplined during that last length and it paid off.

“This just proved that all the hard work does pay off. I started working with my coach Ben [Higson] back in 2013 and I’ve never looked back.”

Thompson on track for Rio after clinching Laser Worlds title


Rio-bound sailor Nick Thompson believes he is in good shape heading towards the Olympic Games after winning a second straight Laser World Championship title in Vallarta, Mexico.

Thompson clinched victory by 12 points over French rival Jean-Baptiste Bernaz to add a second world title to his maiden victory in 2015.

The 30-year-old led the seven-day regatta from the outset and is the third British world champion to be crowned this year across the ten Olympic classes.

“It was a pretty tricky event,” said Thompson. “We managed to get all the races in and I was leading from day one and so I was a little bit stressed with that, being the defending world champion.

“It's pleasing to have done this because it shows we're moving in the right direction and the things I've been needing to work on have been covered. 

“Rio's a very tricky venue and is different to what we've had here so I think there's still some work to do.

“But pretty much I just need to maintain the hard work we've done already and I think we should be in a good place.”

Burgess looks ahead to big final weekend of Sevens action


Phil Burgess is backing England Sevens to go out of the Sevens World Series this year with a bang, when the roadshow finally reaches Twickenham.

England lost out to Scotland last weekend in the bowl final in Paris, and currently sit ninth in the overall World Series standings after a season of experimentation and preparation for Rio.

This weekend’s competition in London is the final round of games before the home nations come together to begin the Great Britain Olympic programme, and with England up against Series leaders Fiji, Australia and Wales in the pool stages, Burgess insists now is the time to prove a point.

“Unfortunately this year we are not in a position to compete for the World Series trophy, Fiji are out in front, but for all teams in Sevens to come to the home of rugby is fantastic for them,” he said.

“The games will be brilliant, there will be some upsets for sure which will be very exciting for the fans.

“This season for us was a development year and was all about putting out the team we can and getting the performances we can as individuals so that at the end of the series we can push on to other things.

“So for us as individuals we’ve got to go out and perform and then whatever comes after that comes. Everyone wants to put a marker down in front of a home crowd.”

McKeever misses out on Rio spot in Duisburg

London 2012 canoeing gold medallist Ed McKeever admitted he had not brought his best when it mattered, as he saw his Rio dream ended in Germany.

The 32-year-old has not qualified for the Games as he needed to finish inside the top two in the K1 200m final of the Duisburg stage of the Sprint World Cup.

Instead he finished fifth overall, while there was further disappointment for Angela Hannah and Lani Belcher – who needed to win their K2 500m but finished third.

However, despite his disappointment McKeever accepted he had not delivered the goods at the crucial moment.

“The two most important races of the last four years – the Worlds last year and today – were probably my worst,” he said.

“I can't explain why. I'm not going to dwell on it but it just didn't happen.”

Sportsbeat 2016

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