Paul Drinkhall produced a table tennis masterclass to secure his seventh Commonwealth Games medal before celebrating his latest success with high fives for his kids.
The 32-year-old from Middlesbrough, who has won two medals at each of the last three Games, bookended a comprehensive 3-0 triumph for Team England over Nigeria in the men’s team event
After joining up with Tom Jarvis for a whitewash win over Bode Abiodun and Olajide Omotayo in the doubles rubber, the veteran dismantled Omotayo to confirm the bronze medal.
It was the perfect response from Team England after missing out on the chance to compete in the gold medal match, having lost their semi-final clash with Singapore the day before.
And while Drinkhall admitted there was some frustration over what might have been, he treasured the chance to claim a podium place with his children, Dougie, 7, and Bonnie, 5, watching on.
“It’s just great to have my family and friends here. My parents, sister, brother, niece and nephew, kids, wife, mother-in-law, and lots more friends and family have been down,” he said.
“It’s good and the home support keeps us going, it’s been great so far. We’re very happy to get the medal as that was the only option but looking back, we will see it as a disappointment.
“Probably as time goes on, we’ll really look back on it better. I am happy now and it’s good to have all the support. It’s been great but we wanted to be playing this afternoon.”
The two-time gold medallist added: “My kids have never seen me at a Games like this before. They’ve seen me at national championships but again it was two or three years ago now.
“I was injured this year and then Covid cancelled the other, so I don’t think they really remember it. They know what’s going on a bit more now and like seeing the TV cameras and everything.
“Some of their friends from school came and watched as well.”
This summer, Team England, supported by funding raised by National Lottery players, comprises of over 400 athletes, all vying for medal success.
Drinkhall, who won Commonwealth gold with his wife Jo at Glasgow 2014, felt the hosts learnt from the mistakes they made in their semi-final defeat to right some wrongs at the NEC.
“I feel like I have been performing well recently and we just said as a team let’s go for it,” he said.
“Let’s go and win the bronze medal as I think yesterday, we played a little bit like we were trying not to lose and being a bit safer. Today we put some of those wrongs right.
“Singapore did play a great match yesterday but today we were very positive, and it was a great team performance. I think the semi-final did fire us up a little bit.
“Personally, I think I performed well yesterday, and I think Singapore performed well. In sport things happen and yesterday they had a great match, and we didn’t so much.
“We took it to Nigeria today and managed to come out on top.”
Drinkhall will now turn his attention to the men’s singles and doubles at Birmingham 2022, insisting he is confident that he can challenge anyone in the world.
“There are a few players who think they can beat everybody, and I think I’m in that group. It’s just about going out there and putting the performances on like we did today,” he added.
“I think after the start in the doubles, it really got the momentum going. Liam (Pitchford) kept it going and then I finished it off, so all around it was a good team performance.”
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