Paul Drinkhall is one of the first two qualifiers for England's Gold Coast 2018 team ©Getty Images

Table tennis players Paul Drinkhall and Liam Pitchford have been confirmed as Commonwealth Games England’s first qualifiers for Gold Coast 2018.

The pair both enjoyed success at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, where they stepped on the medals podium.

Drinkhall won mixed doubles gold with his wife Joanna, with Pitchford ending as the silver medallist with Tin Tin Ho.

Pitchford also added the men’s singles bronze to his tally at the Games in Glasgow.

A team silver medal was also won by Drinkhall and Pitchford at Glasgow, but the duo have now set their sights on further medals at Gold Coast 2018.

“I am delighted to qualify to represent Team England at Gold Coast 2018,” said Drinkhall.

“The Commonwealth Games is one of the world’s best sporting events and Team England is the country’s most successful team.

“I know that Commonwealth Games England is working tirelessly to ensure we have the best prepared team and facilities available to give us the very best chance of delivering more success for the nation at the 2018 Commonwealth Games."

Commonwealth Games England announced the players’ qualification for the team on the one-year-to-go milestone for Gold Coast 2018, where they will seek to match their effort of ending top of the Glasgow 2014 medal table.

England's Liam Pitchford has also qualified for the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast ©Getty Images
England's Liam Pitchford has also qualified for the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast ©Getty Images

Plans for a camp in the 10 days leading up to the Games were announced by CGE in November, with the aim of providing high-performance sports facilities and a full team of medical, physio and support staff to aid preparations.

Sport England has awarded CGE £4 million ($5 million/€4.5 million) of National Lottery funding towards preparations for the Games.

England finished top of the medals table at Glasgow 2014 with a total of 174 medals, including 58 gold.

They will be based in Brisbane for a preparation camp before next year’s Games, with around 600 athletes and staff expected to represent their largest overseas team.

“With only one year to go until Gold Coast 2018, preparations are well advanced and we are confident of sending the best prepared English team to the Gold Coast,” said Sarah Winckless, Team England's Chef de Mission.

“We have an excellent team of staff working hard to ensure that when we get out there, Team England will have everything in place for the perfect performance environment.

“Having Paul and Liam as our first athletes to qualify for Gold Coast 2018 is great news.

“They have both been to the Commonwealth Games before, experienced it, know what is required and will be able to lead from the front, supporting younger athletes at the Games.”

The Games will take place from April 4 to 15 next year.