BATINIC in great shape and contagiously good moodPhoto: Ismo ALHONIEMI
Former player of Yugoslavia still gives her best in the hall
From 1999 when she played at her very first Veterans Championships, Branka BATINIC of Croatia never missed the medal rostrum in her rich career. Judging by the performance in opening days of the competition at the Women’s Singles and Doubles Events at the European Championships in Tampere, hardly that this edition could be the exception. At age of 57, she looks fit and determined as ever. She reached the Round of 16 of the competition in singles by hardly being challenged.
“In Goteborg in 1999, on my premiere I won the title. In the final I beat Larisa FARINA and after that we teamed up to won many medals in doubles together. In Luzern 2002, I clinched silver in singles and doubles, at World’s Championships I also won silver in 2004, in Bremen 2006 - gold, in Rio 2008 bronze, at European in Porec 2009 gold in both singles and doubles. It is a lot of good memories.”
Branka was very successful as player before veteran’s career. She won Yugoslavia Open in 75 and 84. In second appearance she beat Valentina POPOVA, who won four gold medals that season at the European Championships. “After I beat her, I succeeded against three players from China to clinch the title,” remembered BATINIC.
Her decision to play in Bundesliga cost her a lot, she was not the member of a national team any more, due some regulations.
“I was engaged in the preparation of the Veterans Championships in Zagreb as a member of the Swaythling Club. I “blame” them for this “virus”. They asked me to play in Goteborg, I said yes and I liked it. Table tennis is my life, I enjoy playing it and this was the opportunity to feel the heat and to be with people I love. I am a coach, I have contact with the playing ball every day, but I am coaching others, I am not in training process.”
Speaking of the people she knows very well is Event Manager in Tampere Sonja GREFBERG, member of the ETTU Executive Bard.
“We were room mates, for three weeks back in 1986 at the World Grand Prix. I also played three times as a member of European team against Asia…There are just so many nice people I know thanks to table tennis,” explained BATINIC.