SAMARA puts the table tennis under spotlight in RomaniaPhoto: Elena ELISEEVA
Despite tight schedule SAMARA is currently in Buzau at the ROMSTAL Europe Top 10 helping the team
It is hard to book few minutes with Elizabeta SAMARA these days. Crowned European Singles champion, silver medalist in Teams and Doubles at recently concluded 2015 LIEBHERR ITTF-European Championships in the Russian city of Ekaterinburg has her schedule full with the media and social meetings, but for sure, SAMARA is not complaining.
“Finally, my sport caught the attention of all media. We become interesting and found our place alongside most popular sports. I have the feeling everyone knows who I am now. I hope all this attention will bring us more support,” said SAMARA.
The support was already promised from the highest place in the State. At the official reception held two days ago, SAMARA with the coach and RTTF officials received the recognition for her major achievement from the highest state authorities, from the Romania Prime Minister Victor PONTA and the Minister of Sport Gabriela SZABO.
However, recent boost of fame, tight schedule, tones of sport obligations, did not change her. SAMARA is currently in Buzau at the ROMSTAL Europe Top 10, watching the games and even warming up and giving final advices to Adina DIACONU in the practice hall.
Two weeks after the 2015 LIEBHERR ITTF-European Championships, how you see the whole event?
“I started very bad. I lost my opening match against TODOROVIC from Serbia. It was huge upset. I struggled because I have never played against Andrea before. I also struggled because of the enormity of the pressure I put on myself. We were 7th in Portugal and as a team we wanted the medal in Russia. I felt bad, I was unhappy with the balls, with my game…I guess everything was in my head,” explained SAMARA.
But from the quarterfinal everything changed.
“Slowly, match after match I settled more and more into the rhythm. Generally, I am a slow starter. I need time to build my confidence at the tournaments. In the quarterfinal everything came together. I beat PESOTSKA of Ukraine in full five games match. It gave me extra motivation and I finally felt the game. “
In the final, the top seeds, Germany, the winners in Schwechat in 2013 and one year ago in Lisbon, justified their status and overcame Romania. HAN Ying set Germany en route to gold by beating Bernadette SZOCS, SHAN Xiaona extended the lead by overcoming Elizabeta SAMARA and Petrissa SOLJA overcame Daniela MONTEIRO-DODEAN.
“I had a chance there, but nothing went in our favor. SHAN is very dangerous player; my chances were greater if I had played against HAN. We were unlucky with the team draw. They were superb in the match, I think they put each ball on the table.”
SAMARA holds the record in Ekaterinburg. She played 23 matches in total during team and Individual events.
“I always played two matches for the team and I always gave my best. It was emotionally very hard for me to find the strength to come back in the second part of tournament. You just give everything for the team…. However, when I saw my draw, there was a big chance for me. Only what bothered me was PRIVALOVA of Belarus at the beginning. I never have played against her, and I also saw ODOROVA in my part of the draw, and we knew how good she was in Baku; but I saw my big chance. In the closing stages Polina MIKHAILOVA overcame HAN and it also opened the doors for me.”
Main obstacle for SAMARA was the fact that she played against “to much defenders”.
“I never have chance to practice in Romania against the players with defensing style of play. In Istanbul I can play with Irene IVANCAN, but it is not the similar style to the most of defenders in Europe. “
In the doubles SAMARA won silver. She played with Georgina POTA of Hungary.
“We decided to play together, but at the first two tournaments in Qatar and Germany we were very bad. In Austria we saw some improvement, so we decided to stay together for the European Championships.”
In the quarterfinal they overcame top seeds SHAN and SOLJA of Germany and in semis they prevailed against the only medal winners from Europe at the World Championships, LI jie (Netherlands) LI Qian (Poland).
Now, SAMARA’s next big step is Rio.
“It is still early for the detailed schedule, but I can promise I will come to Istanbul in April ready for the challenge.”