PAUL DRINKHALL will compete in four events at the Commonwealth Games – and the Loftus table tennis star is targeting a medal in every one of them.
The opening round of the team competition takes place today, with the English line-up looking to improve on the silver medal they claimed four years ago.
Drinkhall also won a bronze in the mixed doubles in Delhi, and with the singles, men’s doubles and mixed doubles all on his schedule in Glasgow, there is a strong chance of him adding to his medal haul over the next week-and-a-half.
“I’m definitely aiming for a medal in all four events,” he said. “And after coming so close to winning the big one in the last Games, I’m determined that at least one of them is going to be gold.
“It was a good experience in Delhi, but it was hard to come so close to winning and then miss out right at the end. A lot of the players from that team are still involved, so we have an even bigger motivation to make sure we go one better this time around.
“It’s not going to be easy because there are some decent teams in the competition, with Singapore likely to be our biggest rivals. But we’ll have a really strong line-up whoever is selected to play, and we’re going there to win.”
Drinkhall crashed out of the singles event in Delhi when he lost at the quarter-final stage to the eventual gold medallist, Yang Zi, but his performances at the London Olympics, when he beat three players ranked higher than him, underlined his ability to compete on the biggest stage.
Earlier this year, he ended an 18-year wait for a British winner of a World Cup event when he triumphed in the Spanish Open, a success that provided a welcome morale boost after a difficult 18 months that was plagued with injury problems.
While team success in Glasgow would mean a great deal, the singles is the blue riband competition, and while Drinkhall will have to outperform his ranking to claim a medal, his recent performances suggest he is more than capable of producing a career high.
“I’m ranked number seven in the singles, so I’m not seeded to get a medal,” said the 24-year-old. “But it’s all pretty tight and I’ll definitely be up there fighting.
“This is my third Commonwealth Games, so I know what it’s all about. It can be a pretty punishing schedule when you’re in all four events, so it’s all about doing what you have to do in the early rounds and hopefully not wasting too much energy.
“You look at what Andy Murray did at Wimbledon, when he seemed to just cruise through the opening rounds, and that’s obviously the ideal way to do things. Having said that though, you can’t afford to take anything for granted against players ranked lower than you, and I won’t be allowing my focus to slip.
“I was on the other side of the coin in London, beating players I wasn’t really supposed to be beating, so hopefully I can use some of that experience as well to spur me on.
“Winning the Spanish Open was a big step forward for me, and the next step is to maintain that progress at the Commonwealth Games. Having won two medals in Delhi, I want to do even better this time.”