A refreshing surprise

London bound: Paul Drinkhall and Joanna Parker will be at the Olympics together. PICTURE: STEVE TAYLOR
London bound: Paul Drinkhall and Joanna Parker will be at the Olympics together. PICTURE: STEVE TAYLOR
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IT’S a pretty rare occasion when you receive the best news of your life and your partner matches it on the same day.

But that’s what happened when Rotherham-based table tennis duo Paul Drinkhall and Joanna Parker found out they were part of Team GB for next month’s Olympic Games in London.

Knowing that the squad announcement was due the pair were packing kit ready for a tournament, but keeping an eye on their phones.

Drinkhall said: “When we found out we all got an email. I was downstairs and Jo was upstairs and we were both refreshing our email all the time. I put my phone down and the next thing I knew Jo was shouting.

“I ran upstairs and we checked both together and saw that we were both in the singles and the team, which was a great achievement for both of us.”

Parker said it made the moment more special that they were together: “It was pretty cool, we had a little hug then called our parents at the same time and they were screaming down the phone.”

Paul, aged 22, from Middlesbrough and Joanna, aged 25, from Chertsey in Surrey, orginally moved to Sheffield five years ago before settling into their home near Clifton Park in Rotherham.

The pair are based at Sheffield’s English Institute of Sport and Joanna says that’s where they leave behind their day’s training.

“I think everyone is individual about what they’re like at home. We don’t really talk about table tennis when we’re there,” she said. “When we’re at home we see that as our step away from it. You spend so much time during the day thinking about it, it’s nice to go home and relax.”

With table tennis set to start a month today in London, Parker said the excitement is beginning to intensify ahead of their arrival in the Village on July 24. She said: “It’s my first Olympics so I have a kind of image of what it will be like, but until I get into it I won’t really know. I think the atmosphere within the village will be really good and in Team GB itself as well.

“We got some shoes this week, which is our first bit of kit. Even just getting them gets people excited.”

Drinkhall added: “We’re going to do our best to get some big results.”