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European Veterans Championships - 26 May 2013

No thought of stopping for Happy-Go-Lucky


No thought of stopping yet for Mr Happy-Go-Lucky Tomorrow in Bremen the European Veterans Championships will start with record number of participants. From 27 May to 1 June there will be 2.834 players from 40 countries at the ÖVB Arena Bremen, from A to W

No thought of stopping yet for Mr Happy-Go-Lucky Tomorrow in Bremen the European Veterans Championships will start with record number of participants. From 27 May to 1 June there will be 2.834 players from 40 countries at the ÖVB Arena Bremen, from A to W, Azerbaijan to Wales. Among them will be one of the greatest stars of table tennis, Mikael APPELGREN.

With nickname Mr Happy-Go-Lucky, the well-paid advertising contract should have gone into Mikael APPELGREN ´s pocket automatically: Far beyond Sweden´s borders people call him “Äpplet”. In German that means simply “Apfel”, and almost exactly 25 years ago, Äpplet and the computer company Apple were sitting at the negotiation table.

APPELGREN had just won 3 gold medals at the EC in Paris, so Apple could well imagine the elegant master technician as their advertising expert. However, nothing came of it – “I think in the end it failed because of money, although I cannot remember exactly”, says Mikael. Doesn´t matter, though, for the deal with the at one time most valuable enterprises of the world is one of the few things that “Appel”, now 51 years old, has not accomplished in his life. Four WC titles, 8 EC gold medals, 2 wins at Europe Top 12 plus one in the World Cup are his impressive record. Last year he won gold in his age category at the Veterans` WC in Stockholm. For quite some time time, APPELGREN has not been chasing any titles, though. Fun comes first for the indefatigable Swede. This goes for the European VC in Bremen, too. “I´ll try to play at my best and of course I will fight. But I also want to enjoy some good German beer”, says the ingenious technician. Among other things, he intends to meet some friends, “some of whom I haven´t seen for years.”

In Bremen, APPELGREN last played at the WVC  in 2006. Then, the tournament ended for him in the semi-final when he lost to Alan COOKE, the eventual World Champion. “Äpplet`s” defeat was most likely due to the “entertainment programme” the evening before as he remarks, grinning broadly, “Could be that I had a beer too many with Zoran KALINIC.”

Nowadays, his sometimes not so professional style of life does not matter any more. During his peak times, though, it proved to be an obstacle. No sooner than the mid-eighties he developed hardness against himself, which was necessary to become a true professional. His former coach Jens FELLKE once called his change of mind APPELGREN´s  “second birth as a table tennis player.”

And he certainly does not want to let go of this life. He plays for his club Sparvägen in Sweden´s elite league, for their second team in the 2nd league. He is a member of the board, president, coach, captain and person in charge of sponsoring. In short: Nothing can be done without APPELGREN.  What´s more: The passionate skier loves this life.  “Once I received an offer from the financial world. To accept that, I`d have to stop with table tennis, though, and I just did not want to do that”, he reports. What he likes most is being a table tennis player forever. And here is one question he does not like to be asked anymore: about the end of his playing career – what a nuisance for him! “Every day”, he says, “there is something about it on the radio, in the press or somebody else asks me.” Considerations like that, he says, are of no importance for him as he feels top fit and has no physical problems. He believes that he owes that in part to his nimble, light-footed playing style. So far, he has escaped back or knee troubles.

In Bremen, APPELGREN wants to present himself to his fans as light-footed as ever. And should he succeed in winning the title, he will be able to deliver his address of thanks in German. “It may take a little, but after a few days in Germany the language will be o.k. again.” 

Thomas BACHMANN, courtesy DTTB

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