First ever Olympics for GROTH and LEBESSONPhoto: Linda KARLSSON
2016 ITTF-European Olympic Games Qualification Tournament in Swedish city of Halmstad
After the fights of epic proportions, three final places for the Men’s Singles event at the forthcoming Rio 2016 Olympic Games are decided. At 2016 ITTF-European Olympic Games Qualification Tournament in Swedish city of Halmstad the winners of the Blue and Red Group are Emmanuel LEBESSON of France and Jonathan GROTH of Denmark, whilst KOU Lei of Ukraine joined them as the winner of the match between the losers of the Red and the Blue final. He beat Simon GAUZY of France in the ultimate match.
In the Group final, Emmanuel LEBESSON beat KOU Lei of Ukraine in the nail biting seven games match. In seventh game he had match ball at 10:8, before he eventually won 12:10.
“This is a special moment for me. I have never been to Olympics, although I have been through this painful qualification tournament once. I lost close games in Luxembourg four years ago and after that I was thinking to leave table tennis. I needed six months to recover and to start to play again,” admitted LEBESSON.
Earlier, LEBESSON concluded the opening match of the day with the straight games victory against Stefan FEGERL of Austria.
“I was not very happy man, when I saw the draw for the fourth round. Against FEGERL I lost in three previous occasions. I know it is going to be very tough match. However, the new balls went on my way. The new ones allow me to play better against players with style like Stefan. I can play powerfully, but still to preserve some energy. The game with just service – return-first ball does not work against him. But with this balls I can exchange five or six balls instead three,” said LEBESSON.
For Jonathan GROTH of Denmark this will be the first time to participate at the Olympics. On his last hurdle to his dreams, GROTH beat Simon GAUZY of France.
“This means everything to me. I had my chances to go to Olympics through rankings, but this is million times better,” said GROTH.
In the round played in the morning, GROTH denied Benedek OLAH’s attempt to enter the history books as first table tennis representative of Finland. He left one step short, whilst Jonathan progressed in very impressive way, in five games.
“I am so tired, and it was very hard to play against the player with the OLAH’s style. He is one of the most powerful players on the circuit. Long rallies against him are very dangerous. I had three games advantage, before he raised his game. He won next game and even had 9:5 in next. Luckily, I recovered to win 12:10,” said GROTH.
In the morning KOU Lei was the first to leave the field to get ready for the final encounter. He beat Paul DRINKHALL of England in five games.
“My receive of the service was very good, I managed to gain a lot off points on first ball. The only problem I had was with the umpires. I have been warned for my backhand service, which is absolutely correct,” said KOU Lei.
Simon GAUZY beat Daniel GORAK of Poland for his place in ultimate round.
“I had a 3:0 at the beginning, but all three games concluded by narrow margin. It could be opposite very easily,” said GAUZY.
Bojan TOKIC of Slovenia, 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 are at the list of eligible players for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games from the first tournament.