One for all – Romania’s secret of golden successPhoto: Rémy Gros ITTF
After four consecutive finals Romania finally clinched gold metal. At the ultimate stage of the LIEBHERR ITTF European Championships they overcame reigning champions from Germany and halted their progress to the fourth title.
The final started with the match between Elizabeta SAMARA and HAN Ying. First player in Germany’s team, ranked at the position no. 3 in Europe faced Europe’s no. seven. Two years ago in Ekaterinburg it was Bernadette SZOCS who opened the match, but this time we saw the clash of top players in their respective teams at the very beginning.
In the opening game for SAMARA it was difficult to find the path through the stonewall defensive skills of HAN Ying, but after SAMARA lost the opening game she kept her patience and won the second one. HAN’s attacks proved equally dangerous, so despite Elizabet’s great efforts, Germany’s player keep the game leveled forcing the set to close finish and eventually - the 2:1 lead.
Fourth game started with 3:0 for SAMARA and despite good performance that allowed HAN to reduce the arrears, SAMARA pushed to decider. In the nerves wrecking fifth game Elizabeta was in the lead from the beginning and proved stronger in the finish (9:11, 12:10, 9:11, 11:8, 11:7).
“It was fantastic match; very difficult. We expected that, there were no surprise in that department. I was prepared for the long rallies against HAN,”said SAMARA.
Daniela MONTEIRO DODEAN, Europe’s no. 14 faced SHAN Xiaona no. 6 at the Old Continent. Unlike the previous match, SHANA halted any attempt of Daniela to make it dramatic. Two opening games concluded by 11:6 and despite Daniela’s early lead in third game, the match concluded in straight games.
Nina MITTELHAM started aggressively, but Europe’s no. 20, Bernadette SZOCS, was ready for the challenge. She stroke back by the same power and it did not take long before we heard Bernie’s victorious scream. Supported by the crowd from Luxembourg Nina had an early lead in the second game, but Bernadette very quickly closed the door again. In third game Nina gained control, but just to prolonged to fourth, when SZOCS sealed the match (11:5, 11:5, 6:11, 11:6).
On her second return to the table SHAN was equally determined like in the duel against Daniela. She won two opening games against SAMARA in impressive style. Elizabeta only managed to win third game, before SHAN moved to another gear to finish the match.
Powerful performance gave Daniela MONTEIRO DODEAN quick lead 1:0 in games against HAN Ying. Much closer game followed, but still Daniela was in driving seat. The pendulum swung in third game. It seamed that DODEAN lost her patience. HAN reduced the diference, but Daniel stayed at the winning path and sealed the match.
“I never beat HAN and I just felt that time have come. I am so happy that she did not make fully recovery after I was 2:0 up. In case of 2:2 it will be different scenario. I will be under greater pressure and who knows how my body will respond to such long match,” said DODEAN.
Romania’s coach Viorel FILIMON explained.
“I waited 12 years for this gold. Finally we reached it. We did not have any special preparation our main weapon was great quality of each player. Girs told me at the beginning that each must win one match. They stick to it until the end and they reach the final,” said FILIMON.
Romania - Germany 3:2
Elizabeta SAMARA - HAN Ying 3:2 (9:11, 12:10, 9:11, 11:8, 11:7)
Daniela MONTEIRO DODEAN - SHAN Xiaona 0:3 (6:11, 6:11, 7:11)
Bernadette SZOCS - Nina MITTELHAM 3:1 (11:5, 11:5, 6:11, 11:6)
Elizabeta SAMARA - SHAN Xiaona 1:3 (8:11, 9:11, 17:15, 3:11)
Daniela MONTEIRO DODEAN - HAN Ying 3:1 (11:4, 11:8, 4:11, 12:10)
9 CZECH REPUBLIC
27 SLOVAK REPUBLIC