European Championships | 18 Sep 2023
Sweden Ends 21-Year Drought to Claim Men's Team Table Tennis Gold at 2023 European Championships in Malmö
Sweden has been crowned the champion of the Men's Team Event at the 2023 STUPA European Table Tennis Championships in Malmö. In an exciting final, witnessed by 4,000 spectators at the Arena, Sweden defeated Germany with a score of 3-1. France, represented by Felix LEBRUN, Alexis LEBRUN, Can AKKUZU, and Jules ROLLAND, and Portugal, with Marcos FREITAS, Tiago APOLONIA, Joao GERALDO, and Joao MONTEIRO, won bronze.
Although Sweden (14 titles) and Germany (9 titles) have a combined total of 23 out of the 41 men's team titles at the European Championships, this final marked only their 6th encounter in a final match. Sweden had previously beaten Germany in 1980, 1990, 2000, and 2002, while Germany managed to defeat them in 2011. This victory added the 15th title to Sweden's record after a 21-year title drought.
The last time Sweden won the men's team title before this triumph in 2002, and it was the second of the 13 team finals that Timo BOLL participated in. At that time, the 11-year-old Kristian KARLSSON and Mathias FALCK were likely watching the match on TV, while Truls MOREGAARD, who defeated BOLL this time, was just 6 weeks old.
Jörgen PERSSON commented on their victory, saying, "We placed pressure on ourselves with the goal of winning European Championship gold. Now we are also prepared for the Olympics with the team, which has significant implications for planning the remainder of the season. I must commend Timo BOLL for his hard work for his team. Truls MOREGARD was able to defeat him largely because Timo doesn't handle Truls's quick game and rebounds well."
Truls MOREGARD added, "I had success with my serves against Timo BOLL. I play at a faster pace, and ultimately, that makes the difference. Timo BOLL is always a challenging opponent, and you can never let your guard down. We've reached several finals, and it feels great to be able to change that trend. We are now creating our own history. When I had a 10-5 lead in the decisive match, it felt almost surreal with the crowd cheering my name, my family and friends in the stands. I've never experienced anything like it with the crowd so close to the table. It's a fantastic feeling."
Despite Timo BOLL turning his singles match in his favor after being 0-2 down in sets against double world champion and 2017 World Championship finalist Mattias FALCK, the Germans had to concede defeat in the other three matches to the host team, which fought tenaciously. In the opening match against Truls MÖREGARDH, the 2021 World Championship singles finalist, Benedikt DUDA missed his set point at 11-10 in the third game. In the fourth match against MÖREGARDH, BOLL was leading 7-4 in the second set and managed to force a deciding game after being down 0-2 in sets again. However, in that final game, Möregardh increased the tempo and pressure, combined with his seemingly boundless composure, leaving the two-time World Cup winner BOLL with little room to maneuver after his exhausting first match. BOLL remains winless against the 21-year-old world number twelve.
Kristian Karlsson remarked, "It's not easy when Kay Stumper attacks aggressively and swiftly. He becomes a formidable opponent when he gets into his groove. Winning gold right now feels almost unreal, especially considering that we could have been eliminated in the quarterfinals when Hungary had three match points to win in the deciding match."
Lars HIELSCHER expressed his disappointment after losing the final but noted, "In summary, we had an excellent tournament, and our players elevated their game as the competition progressed. In the final, we performed well, but the issue for us was that Sweden played even better. It's also worth noting that there are now many more countries involved that can disrupt other teams."
Timo BOLL reflected on the final, saying, "It was a fantastic final and a great display of table tennis. I hope it can contribute to Sweden attracting more players. Truls MOREGARD is inventive, he has challenging and diverse serves, and he puts pressure on me to make mistakes. As for the future, there is a match in the German League this Saturday, and in two weeks, I will be heading to China for another competition. I'm also looking forward to the Waldner Cup, which will be held in Stockholm on the last weekend of November. It's a unique competition, and hopefully, new audiences will come to watch.
Sweden – Germany 3-1
Truls MOREGAARD - Benedikt DUDA 3-0 (11-4, 11-8, 14-12)
Mattias FALCK – Timo BOLL 2-3 (11-8, 12-10, 8-11, 7-11, 10-12)
Kristian KARLSSON – Kay STUMPER 3-2 (11-5, 7-11, 11-3, 11-13, 11-4)
Truls MOREGAARD – Timo BOLL 3-2 (11-6, 11-8, 4-11, 6-11, 11-5)