Paul Drinkhall lands spot in showpiece table tennis league

Exposure: North Yorkshire's Paul Drinkhall hopes his latest venture can help grow the sport of table tennis. (Picture: Steve Ellis)
Exposure: North Yorkshire's Paul Drinkhall hopes his latest venture can help grow the sport of table tennis. (Picture: Steve Ellis)
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Olympian Paul Drinkhall believes his participation in a new million pound venture can transform table-tennis into a mega-sport around the world.

Drinkhall has been invited to be among 12 men’s players in the inaugural T2 Asia Pacific Table Tennis League (T2 APAC) which will start this summer.

The competition will have a US $1.5 million prize purse and will shake up the sport to make it more spectator-friendly.

Drinkhall, from Loftus, North Yorkshire, will jet out to Hong Kong once a month to play a series of three league matches in a team of three men and three women.

“We need more and more of these kinds of events to boost publicity throughout the world,” said the 26-year-old.

“The organisers are focusing on Asia at the beginning but hopefully it can come over to the United Kingdom and turn into something like what the Premier League of darts is doing.”

The league will be the richest competition in the table tennis calendar.

When it was announced in October, chief executive Jeff Chue said the aim was to make players household names.

“Table tennis is arguably the most highly participated sport in the world,” said Chue. “But most people probably can’t name many of the top players in the world today.”

Drinkhall added: “Each event people will get to know the players a little bit more and getting to know the individuals can only help the sport.

“For me it can only help put my name out there and get more sponsorship. Hopefully I can go out there and get some good results and show how I can play.”

Drinkhall has been leading a resurgence of English table tennis in recent years and won team bronze at the World Championships last year.

He became only the third Briton to reach the last 16 of the men’s singles at an Olympic Games in Rio last year.

Drinkhall added: “I was happy with my performance at the Olympics. It was an improvement on London and I probably could have gone even further. As an athlete you always want to do better and our main focus is now the Commonwealth Games. We have missed out on a Commonwealth gold medal the last two times to Singapore and we want to put that right.”