Olympians heating their engines in Hamm
Preparations for Olympic Games in Rio
Three weeks before the start of the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro (5th - 21st August), the best European players have ultimate rehearsal at the Tournament in Germany’s city of Hamm. The two days competition gathered the crème de la crème of Continental table tennis (prize money 5.000 Euros).
In Hamm plays Dimitrij OVTCHAROV (no. 5 at the World rankings), Timo BOLL (World’s no. 14), Bastian STEGER (World’s no. 24), Patrick FRANZISKA (World’s no. 51) all from Germany, Vladimir SAMSONOV of Belarus (World’s no.9), Alexander SHIBAEV of Russia (World’s no. 23), Panagiotis GIONIS of Greece (World’s no. 26), KOU Lei of Ukraine (World’s no. 43), Liam PITCHFORD (World’s no. 49), Paul DRINKHALL (World’s no. 58), Samuel WALKER (World’s no. 129) all from England and guest from Qatar LI Ping (World’s World’s no. 28).
Before the tournament the players had been together for a week in the National Training center in Düsseldorf.
'Best non-Chinese' and best European player OVTCHAROV, after bronze in singles and teams event in London, aiming new medals in Rio.
“In singles at the Olympics only two Chinese players could play, the simple mathematics shows that it increases my chances, but also the others will come to Rio ready to attack. The task is extremely difficult, but I would like to return to the podium, preferably twice, " said OVTCHAROV.
BOLL is still missing the medal from the singles after bronze in teams in London and silver in Beijing.
"I have no secrets. The fact is that winning a medal in singles is my dream, but anyone who knows me, knows that the desire for medal in teams is nothing less then the one I have for singles,” said BOLL.
But before Olympics, German stars will be tested by former European champion, three-time winner of the Word Cup and World Championships runner-up in the singles 1997 Vladimir SAMSONOV; also by the bronze medal winners in Malaysia at the World Championships, team of England and third in the European Championships in 2013 and the Europe Top 16 in 2015 Greek ace Panagiotis GIONIS.
The only player with the defensive style of play at the list, mixes backhand defense and forehand attack to produce modern, successful and attractive defense table tennis in Europe.
“We came in Germany for a week and we had a very good trainings with the best European players. After the tournament in Hamm we will move to Porto to continue working with the Portugal’s team and few more players from the Olympic list. GIONIS is highly motivated, the atmosphere is fantastic, and everyone gives its best at the preparations. The aim for the Olympics is to reach the position among top eight players,” said coach Konstantinos VATSAKLIS.
Courtesy of F. LEIDHEISER and I. FAKAROS