European Championships

Ioannis SGOUROPOULOS's golden farewell from the Under 21 Category

Photo: Bernard Comeliau

In his last year in Under 21 category, Ioannis SGOUROPOULOS of Greece clinched gold medal at the 2021 European Under 21 Championships in Spa. In the final he overcame Russia's Maksim GREBNEV (11:6, 7:11, 12:10, 13:15, 11:9, 10:12, 11:7). Bronze medalists are Irvin BERTRAND of France and Lev KATSMAN of Russia.

In the Group stage, Ioannis SGOUROPOULOS already beat GREBNEV once, but this time it was even harder.

“It was really difficult to achieve that win, especially now when is so much on stake. I was under stress and nervous,” said SGOUROPOULOS.”I am happy that I can leave this category with the gold.”

Greek player was under severe pressure on this Championships.

“Against ROSSI in Round of 16 it was 3:3 and I was 3:8 down, than in semis...”reminded us SGOUROPOULOS.

In the penultimate stage Ioannis SGOUROPOULOS recovered from 3:0 in reverse to overcame Lev KATSMAN of Russia (11:7, 11:9, 11:9, 8:11, 10:12, 8:11, 7:11).

“I did not expect Lev will play the way he did. We are in the same club, we train together and that what he had played surprised me. I was not ready for that. I felt incredible pressure and I was looking for the right tactics,” said SGOUROPOULOS.

After 3:0 Greek played managed to find the right rhythm.

“I played closer to-the table. At the beginning Lev kept me far from it and it made me feel uncomfortable,” explained SGOUROPOULOS.

However, Russia's place in the final was secured by Maksim GREBNEV. He overcame Irvin BERTRAND of France in five games (11:2, 11:8, 11:6, 10:12, 11:8).

“I played short-short to him and that is the play he is not comfortable with. In fourth game with “bananas” situation worsened for me, but I made my way through. I lost one game, but it did not put me out the rhythm very much,” said GREBNEV who could not hold himself of playing behind his back on match ball at 10:7.

Photo: Bernard Comeliau