WITH his Olympic exploits still fresh in the memory, Paul Drinkhall is targeting a double table tennis gold at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

Drinkhall, who is from Loftus in east Cleveland, enjoyed a successful Olympics in London, beating the highly-rated Zi Yang of Singapore in the singles competition before suffering a narrow defeat to eighth seed Dimitrij Ovtcharov.

His exploits took him back into the world's top 100 - he is currently ranked 85 - and confirmed the potential that saw him claim major European titles at youth level.

The 22-year-old will compete in the World and European Championships next year, but his primary target is the next Commonwealth Games in two years time.

At the last Commonwealths in New Delhi, Drinkhall claimed a silver medal in the team event, a bronze in the mixed doubles and made the quarter-finals of the singles competition.

He is confident of doing even better in Glasgow, and feels two gold medals is a realistic aspiration.

"The Commonwealths in 2014 are the next really big event on the horizon, and they're already a major target," admitted Drinkhall, who is currently based in Germany. "With the strength in depth we have at the minute, England have a really good chance of doing well there.

"We should have a really strong team and having won silver last time, we'll definitely be targeting gold.

"On a personal level, my main focus over the next couple of years is definitely going to be on winning the Commonwealth singles title.

"I've proved at the Olympics that I'm capable of performing well at a big competition. Normally, the better players produce their best at the biggest tournaments, and I'm pleased I was able to step up too. I just need to keep training and improving because I don't think I'm too far off where I want to be."

The Olympics were clearly a pivotal moment in Drinkhall's career. Performing in front of a packed crowd at the Excel Arena, the North-Easterner handled the expectation of a home audience to produce some of the best table tennis of his career.

He commanded national attention, something British players have generally been starved of, and helped raise the profile of a sport that enjoys huge support throughout most of Asia.

"It was amazing to be part of something like that," said Drinkhall. "Normally, even at the Olympics, table tennis gets ignored.

"But there were sold-out crowds every day and the TV was showing a lot of the table tennis competition. It was nice to get that level of interest and be able to show people just how exciting top-class table tennis can be.

"The whole Olympic experience was incredible, from living in the Village with all the other athletes to being part of the opening and closing ceremonies.

"Rio will be slightly different because it's not a home Games, but experiencing London just makes me even more determined to make sure I qualify in four years time."

To that end, Drinkhall has joined Werder Bremen to compete in this season's German Bundesliga, probably the strongest domestic league in Europe.

The table tennis team is part of the wider Werder Bremen sports club - the football side is currently ninth in the German top-flight - and Drinkhall, who spent the first half of the year playing in Italy, has been impressed by the quality of both his team-mates and the training facilities on offer.

"Everything's been really good," he said. "The practice is very good. There are two other guys at the club who competed in the Olympics, and one of them finished fourth. It's great to be based somewhere where there's players at that sort of level.

"I already feel as though my game is better because of the time I've spent here. When you train against top-class players week in, week out, your own game is bound to improve.

"If I keep my head down and keep grafting away, the wins will keep on coming. I've known I can play at a high level for quite a while now, but in the past it felt as though there was maybe something missing.

"Now, I feel like I'm improving and getting a much better level of consistency in my game. I just need to keep that going and reflect it in my results."