Bojan TOKIC beat the oddsPhoto: Linda KARLSSON
2016 ITTF-European Olympic Games Qualification Tournament in Swedish city of Halmstad
Only one player at the 2016 ITTF-European Olympic Games Qualification Tournament in Swedish city of Halmstad found the way from qualifications, through the great barricades set by the Top 16 superstars and booked his place for the Rio. Bojan TOKIC of Slovenia won the final in his Group to join Panagiotis GIONIS of Greece, Timo BOLL of Germany, Marcos FREITAS of Portugal, Bastian STEGER of Germany, Tiago APOLONIA of Portugal, Alexander SHIBAEV of Russia and Par GERELL of Sweden at the list of eligible players for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
Bojan TOKIC beat Joao GERALDO of Portugal in the final.
“I have the tendency to make my life difficult. However, after coming back from defeats in the start and hard matches, I started to play much relaxed today.”
Bojan inflicted the pain in the hart of the host nation supporters. He beat best-ranked Swede, seeded at the position no. seven lost in six games in the quarterfinal. He continued in the same rhythm in the semis. TOKIC overcame Jakub DYJAS of Poland.
“Now I feel the ball, feel the hall…everything is different. I suffered at the opening, but when you recorded one win, things changed. It busted my self-confidence. In addition, now I am sure I am in. My rankings are enough high for the place for Olympics, and that put some weight off my shoulder,” stated TOKIC.
Timo BOLL is through to his fifth Olympic Games, after he overcame Robert GARDOS in the final.
“It is a strange feeling. It has been long time ago since Sydney 2000. I am very proud of my achievement,” said BOLL.
Coming from the injury it was great challenge for the player who holds the record in number of European titles.
“I was skeptical at the beginning. Playing three best of seven matches in the same day was great challenge for my body. I was wondering will it allowed me to play at the highest level. Eventually, I managed to perform at the best level. I stayed at the good course even against Robert GARDOS who is very dangerous player,” said BOLL.
Par GERELL delighted the home crowd by winning Paul DRINKHALL of England in the final.
“It is wonderful feeling. I have been working whole year for this and it is fantastic that I could crown all those efforts in front of my supporters at home. Paul DRINKHALL is a dangerous adversary, but he has his ups and downs. Today I was at the top of the game. I am very happy with my performance although I had few doubts about my shape at the beginning of the tournament,” said Par.
Panagiotis GIONIS beat the top seeded Vladimir SAMSONOV of Belarus.
“I secured my position for Rio with my rankings, but I wanted to finish this tournament in the proper way. I was preparing for this very hard. I was very aggressive against SAMOSNOV. I played very powerful game and I made him tired,” said Panagiotis.
Tiago APOLONIA beat Liam PITCHFORD of England in full seven games.
“Before PITCHFORD, I played against Tan RUIWU another match in seven games. It proved, injuries are behind me now. I am fit and mentally strong. It was hard to play against both of them. They both beat me recently,” explained APOLONIA.
Alexander SHIBAEV overcame WANG Yang, Slovakian defender.
“I felt confident, because I beat him twice in full distance matches. However it was hard because he gained a lot of self-confidence with recent victories against strong adversaries. His main strength is ability to adjust quickly on your game,” said SHIBAEV.
Marcos FREITAS beat LI Ahmet of Turkey.
“I never had played against him but I know that he improved his game very much. I was very cautious. In addition I had a very close match against IONESCU in the pervious round. It was very hard day for me and I ma happy it is over and that I have the ticket for Rio in my pocket.”
Bastian STEGER is third player to be qualified for Rio. In the final he beat Andrej GACINA of Croatia.
“GACINA usually beat me, so I was ready. Maybe this time experience prevailed,” said STEGER.
Previously, Simon GAUZY of France and Kristian KARLSSON of Sweden excited the playing field earlier than their rankings predicted. Once again, the first round of the Olympic Qualifications were the unbeatable obstacle for the player ranked at position no. seven at the seeding and no 23 in the World. Player from France suffered by the hands of Paul DRINKHALL. Paul’s performance was brilliant; he played like he was under spell. Hardly that Simon could do anything against it.
The list of upsets of smaller scale went on with Robin DEVOS of Belgium who beat Lubomir JANCARIK of Czech Republic, Alvaro ROBLES of Spain who overcame Adam PATTANTYUS of Hungary. The good run of Benedek OLAH of Finland extended to quarterfinal. He beat Lubomir PISTEJ of Slovakia.