Olympics table tennis: Rotherham’s Drinkhall and Parker are a happy couple

Great Britain's Paul Drinkhall serves on his way to beating Kuwait's Ibrahem Alhasan in the first round of the men's singles table tennis at the ExCel Arena, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday July 28, 2012. See PA story OLYMPICS Table Tennis. Photo credit should read: Dave Thompson/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Great Britain's Paul Drinkhall serves on his way to beating Kuwait's Ibrahem Alhasan in the first round of the men's singles table tennis at the ExCel Arena, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday July 28, 2012. See PA story OLYMPICS Table Tennis. Photo credit should read: Dave Thompson/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
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The Olympic Games table tennis tables are manufactured by a company called Double Happiness ...tailor made, one suspects, for Team GB couple Paul Drinkhall and Joanna Parker.

They are Team GB’s only representatives in the singles and they happen to live together in Rotherham. The chat at the Olympic Village they currently call home should be happy enough after both claimed opening victories.

Great Britain's Joanna Parker during her win over Brazil's Caroline Kumahara at the ExCel Arena, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday July 28, 2012. See PA story OLYMPICS Table Tennis. Photo credit should read: Nick Potts/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY

Great Britain's Joanna Parker during her win over Brazil's Caroline Kumahara at the ExCel Arena, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday July 28, 2012. See PA story OLYMPICS Table Tennis. Photo credit should read: Nick Potts/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY

Parker was was up first and set the bar for her man. English National Champion Parker had the perfect start, taking a decisive victory against Brazilian Caroline Kumahara 4-0 in a contest that lasted exactly 30 minutes.

The packed Hall at the Excel was reverberating with support for 25-year-old Parker, cheering her every shot, as she steadily ticked off the games in the best of seven match.

Parker said: “It couldn’t have gone better for me and while you prepare for these things there was nothing that could prepare you for that feeling when you walked into the stadium full of people all cheering for you.

“I had a nervous start, but settled down and won the first game. I had a good start in the second and when she started playing well in the third - and I was 9-5 down - I said to myself this is the time. I just knuckled down and focused on what I needed to do and came through.

“The crowd helped so much and I wasn’t quite expecting that level of support. In table tennis we don’t normally get that many people supporting us. It makes you feel you are doing it for them too.”

So the stage was set for Drinkhall and he did not flinch. He repeated the trick, winning 4-0 (11-9, 12-10, 11-9, 11-4) against Kuwait’s Ibrahem Al-Hasan.

He will now meet Zi Yang, of Singapore, in the second round tomorrow.

Drinkhall said: “I felt relaxed and confident. The first three sets went to deuces but winning the first two were crucial. I started to then take control.

“Yang Zi is someone I’ve played twice before and lost twice so I will have to play much better. But with this support I’m ready to go for it.”

Partner Parker now faces Germany’s Kristin Silbereisen in Round Two tomorrow (0900hrs) who is a better player on paper. But buoyed by today’s success, Jo added:” I guess I have got nothing to lose and with this level of crowd support anything can happen.”