OLYMPICS: Douglas backs Drinkhall for Games success

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HOPES are high for Rotherham table tennis couple Paul Drinkhall and Joanna Parker to progress when their competition begins tomorrow.

Drinkhall, who is from Middlesbrough, but moved to South Yorkshire to train at the English Institute of Sport will play the winner of Ibrahem Al-Hasan of Kuwait or Congo’s Saheed Idowu.

Former Olympian Desmond Douglas says Drinkhall has a good chance if he can find his past form.

“I think Paul in the singles is going to have the best chance,” he said. “I thought 18 months ago that he was going to be really good.

“He dipped a bit after that but seems to have come back a little recently - though I do not think he is as good as 18 months ago.”

Liam Pitchford, from Chesterfield, is confident his teammate will do well. He said: “He’s got a major chance if he prepares well. He’s proved he can play with the top players in the world so hopefully he’ll do some big things.”

Parker, who is Drinkhall’s girlfriend, awaits the winner of Brazilian Caroline Kumahara’s clash with Djibouti’s Yasmin Hassan Farah.

She said: “I am pleased with the draw. I haven’t played the Brazilian before but I will have the chance to watch her in the prelims.”