Vladimir SAMSONOV: "I do not leave my dream of playing at my seventh Olympic Games"Photo: Czech Table Tennis Association/Jan Brychta
Recently, Vladimir SAMSONOV was elected to the post of ETTU Vice President. We talked with the legendary ace about his new position, retirement and the situation in his home country.
SAMSONOV talked about the outcome of the recent elections in the European Table Tennis Union.
" Elections for senior personnel were held during ETTU Congress. Igor LEVITIN became President of the European Table Tennis Union, his first deputy is Pedro MOURA, Vice President for Finances is Sandra DEATON. There were ten candidates in total and there were chosen five more Vice Presidents. It is interesting that for the first time so many athletes, who until recently defended the flags of their national teams, got into the ETTU leadership staff. We sincerely love table tennis and feel the strength to help develop this sport in Europe.
Our priority is to create the best conditions for the younger generation to play table tennis. An important point is the popularization of table tennis in the media and the Internet. In addition, we plan to develop a strategy that will help athletes find themselves after the end of their careers. Of course, we will closely cooperate with national associations and clubs."
Will you be able to combine sport with the functions of vice president? Is your election to this position a step towards retirement?
"For seven years I was the athletes’ representative in the International Table Tennis Federation. There I had approximately the same functions as in the ETTU. Of course, it took a certain amount of time, but I can't say that interfered with my sport career. As a representative in the ITTF, I had a clear idea of how our sport should develop. Hope I will be useful in ETTU too.
As for the end of a career. Indeed, I am 44 years old already, and I need to think about what I will do after sport. But for now I don’t leave my dream to get into another Olympic Games, that is already the seventh in a row, and try to compete for a medal. This is my task for the next year. What will happen next? It all depends on what shape I will be in, whether I can compete with the leading players of the World."
Tell us about your current shape. How were the last six months of your life?
"From mid-March to August I was at home in Montenegro. I returned from the next round of the Russian championship on the day when new rules for entering the country were introduced. First, I had to be in self-isolation for two weeks, then they added two more. That is, for almost a month I did not leave the house. But I never stopped training: I have a special robot that helped me do this. I also did physical training, that is, I tried to keep myself in shape. I trained no less in time than before the epidemic. On the one hand, it was a pity that there were no tournaments, but on the other hand, I spent more time with my family, gained energy. That is, there was also a positive moment in that situation. Of course, we followed the situation in the world, so we kept all the necessary security measures."
What tournaments do you plan to participate in near future??
"I play for the Fakel-Orenburg, last week we played a friendly match with the German Saarbrücken. On October 1, Zagreb Open began in Croatia, and this was my first tournament after six months. Last I played the Qatar Open back in early March. The tournament in Zagreb is unofficial, there are no World classification points, but I decided to take part in it in order to understand what shape I am in now."
SAMSONOV Won the tournament in Croatia.
"The World Cup will be held soon, but I did not get into this event. But in general, there are no major tournaments now. The Russian club championship is planned for mid-October. Perhaps it will be possible to play another tournament in Spain. The European Champions League is scheduled for December. And that's all for now. I really feel the lack of official starts, but I hope that the epidemic will end soon, and next year we will enter the usual competitive rhythm."
Vladimir, you live in Montenegro, do you follow the situation in Belarus?
"Of course, I follow and worry. I always thought I should represent my country through sport. And I hope to do this as long as possible and as best as possible. Unfortunately, today the sport that should unite is much politicized. Sometimes harmless words can be used to fuel conflict. Of course I am against any form of violence. We must not allow the citizens of our country to be opposed to each other. I hope that a dialogue will be built and some compromise found. Belarus has always seemed to me an island of calm, I hope it will remain so."