Dimitrij OVTCHAROV at the top of EuropePhoto: Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Silver from Vladimir SAMSONOV and bronze for KOU Lei
Dimitrij OVTCHAROV overcame Vladimir SAMSONOV at the European Championships in Schwechat in 2013 to win his first ever title in Singles at the Old Continent. Tonight, after hard and breathtaking battle he repeated the success and won the title at the first ever European Games in Baku 4:3 (10:12, 7:11, 11;9, 11:3, 9:11, 11:7, 11:8). OVTCHAROV booked his place in Rio as well. KOU Lei of Ukraine won the bronze medal.
“After the Team’s Event we went to the German House her in Baku. I took the good look of the medal that girl’s won and their gold gave extra motivation. We had a disappointing team’s event, not because we played bad, but because of rule that have to be changed. In singles I suffered from pain in my back at the beginning. I was not sure how I will continue…At the end everything fell into its place,” stated OVTCHAROV.
More recently SAMSONOV beat OVTCHAROV in Qatar, and final in Singles in Baku started with Vladimir in control.
“Today we had a very difficult and long match. My friend SAMSONOV also deserved to win it. He pushed me to the limits.”
SAMSONOV agreed it was long match.
“ It was strange opening game. I had 7:1, then we entered close finish. I won the next game, but it is so hard to keep in that pace against OVTCHAROV.
At this point OVTCHAROW won everything he could in Europe. He is reigning European champion, Top 16 Champion and European Games winner.
In the match for the bronze medal KOU Lei of Ukraine overcame Paul DRINKHALL of Great Britain (11:5, 7:11, 7:11, 5:11, 11:5, 11:8, 20:22).
“I was under pressure knowing that I am playing for the medal. I lost opening game but it was crucial when I managed to level the game. My backhand started working. It was a very close match, every point was very important, and I only won in the final moments. I had to vary my play, changing from left to right, changing my service, changing the way I play."” explained KOU Lei.
By winning the bronze, the Ukrainian is the only unseeded player to win a table tennis medal at the Baku 2015 European Games competition.
Paul DRINKHALL had a fantastic tournament, but at the end he admitted; ”KOU played everything well. He made no easy mistakes, you have to play against him on the highest level and it keeps you under constant pressure.”