I was lucky enough to see Middlesbrough born Paul Drinkhall kick off his Olympics campaign at the Excel. The 22 years old has broken into the top 100 in the world this year and continued his progress by powering through the first and second rounds in the singles. Paul eventually succumbed to a player seeded 8, Germany’s Dimitrij Ovtcharov. No shame in that. Before embarking for the Olympic village The GB no.1 stopped off at Acklam Hall to lend his support to the SABIC Tees Pride 10k and encourage everyone to sign up the popular race this September 2nd.
Paul is pictured above at Acklam Hall with Middlesbrough Olympic swimmer, Aimee Willmott.
Q: First of all tell us why you are here today in Middlesbrough.
PD: Just helping promote the 10k ad 3k run that they are doing here and I think it is an amazing chance for people to get involved with sport. And it is just a great opportunity for people to keep fit, get healthy and hopefully with the Olympics this year a lot more people will be interested in getting involved with events like this.
Q: Are you going to be doing it yourself?
PD: No, unfortunately not. I have a lot of training to do between now and the Olympics and then after the Olympics I’m moving out to Germany to compete in the First League out there. So unfortunately this year my schedule’s a bit too tight but hopefully in the years to come I can stay involved and hopefully run it.
Q: Do you think though that with all the buzz about the Olympics people are going to be more interested in doing it?
PD: Yes definitely that has to be the idea this year. All around the country not just there are people trying to get more people involved in sport and keep people fit and healthy and it is a great opportunity to meet new people and there are so many positives about it. That I think that everyone that is available and can make themselves available should try and get down and do it.
Q: There are lots of positives to running for the benefit of your heath aren’t there?
PD: Yes definitely. The UK has been attacked for obesity but events like this are amazing. A 3k fun run that you can do and the 10k as well. There is an event for you, whether you really want to push yourself in the 10k or just go out and do a bit of a fun run in the 3k. So I think it is great that everyone can come down and do what they want and if not come down and watch and just enjoy yourself.
Q: Because it is not an unachievable distance is it, 10K?
PD: Yes you don’t have to sprint it or be like Usain Bolt in the 100 metres. You can get through it with a little bit of training which is good as well. And even if you train and don’t actually do the 10k it is a great opportunity just to get out there and do a bit of running. I think a lot of people would enjoy running if they did try it.
Q: I’ve got tickets for First Round of the table tennis in the Olympics and this is an opportunity for table tennis to attract a lot of new fans isn’t it?
PH: Definitely. I think it is a minority sport and something like the Olympic games being in Great Britain is a great opportunity for table tennis and for myself to try and promote ourselves and get more in the public eye and hopefully we can get some good results. If not then put on some good shows and try and get more and more people involved and get more publicity through it.
Q; When I was growing we had a great tradition in this area through Ormesby table tennis club. You are carrying that on aren’t you?
PH: Yes I am trying my best to and the rest of the guys in the team are trying to do the best we can for ourselves and for table tennis and the country. With a stage like the Olympics and being in London we can keep continue doing that. For myself in this area, sport’s massive in the north east, so hopefully again with the Olympics I can try and push myself and keep the table tennis legacy alive and hopefully get it to be one of the big sports in the region in the future.
Q: I’ve only ever watched table tennis on tv except for where myself and friends have played. So is it good as a spectator sport, live?
PD: I think when you go and watch it live you understand more of the speed and the power and the spin. And the speed people are moving around the table and how far we are from the table. You get more of a sight of how difficult it is to play it rather than on tv where you don’t necessarily get the speed or get the spin and get the speed of the player involved. But when you can go down and actually watch it and get the opportunity to do that I think your eyes are opened to what table tennis is really like.
Q: What about you, what are your aims as far as the Olympics are concerned?
PD: I am not expecting anything big. I am still only 22 and I qualified through the given places (wildcard) through the country. But I know when I’m playing at my best I can challenge the best in the world. And with it being the home games I’m going to go there and going to do that. And I have prepared well I have been in China. I am just fine tuning really now getting everything ready for the matches. I can push the top players and if I get the right draw then who knows.
Q: You must be excited to be part of the Home games.
PD: Yes definitely there is such a buzz around the whole nation not just within sport. It is like with the Torch as well, everyone is getting involved. I think everyone at the beginning thought it was just going to be London Olympics but I think the Torch has proved that it is a nation thing. Everyone is trying to support everybody and get involved with sport. So it is just a great opportunity for everyone.
Runners of all abilities are encouraged to take part in the SABIC Tees Pride 10k or 3k Fun Run on Sunday, September 2.
Now in its eighth year, Teesside’s biggest annual running event takes place shortly after the London 2012 Olympics, with its Middlesbrough Council organisers targeting 4,000 entrants for the first time.
The route of the SABIC Tees Pride 10k takes in Acklam Road, Ladgate Lane, Marton Road, Marton Burn Road, Emerson Avenue, Green Lane, Acklam Road again and finally Hall Drive.
- To sign up for either run, visit www.runmiddlesbrough.com call 01642 515672 for an application form or pick one up at Middlesbrough leisure centres or the central library. The 10k is also open to wheelchair athletes.
- Entry for the SABIC Tees Pride 10k is £15 or £13 for affiliated runners. Entry for the 3k Fun Run is £7, with family entries just £24 for two adults and up to three children aged under-16.
- Those interested in running for a charity can find out more at www.runmiddlesbrough.com The site also includes details of various local running routes, a training plan for beginners, plus videos and pictures from previous runs.