European Olympic Singles Qualification | 19 May 2024

URSU secured first olympic ticket for Moldova, ZHMUDENKO booked his second

For the first time in history, Moldova will have a table tennis player at the Olympic Games. On the last day of the 2024 European Olympic Singles Qualification in Sarajevo, Vladislav URSU secured his ticket to Paris. In the second-to-last match of Stage 3 of the tournament, Yaroslav ZHMUDENKO of Ukraine also secured an Olympic spot. They joined Panagiotis GIONIS of Greece and Milosz REDZIMSKI of Poland, who secured their tickets after the second stage.

In his last match, URSU overcame Adam SZUDI of Hungary in straight games (11:9, 11:7, 11:4, 11:4).

“It is unbelievable. I could not believe I would make it. In Moldova, we have never had a table tennis player represent us at the Olympics, and I am so happy I am the first,” said URSU.

The qualifications started five days ago with a demanding schedule, both physically and mentally.

“I had a very hard group with the top seed Alvaro ROBLES. Later in stage two, I lost to Yang WANG, who had already played here twice for the Olympic ticket. After I lost in Stage 2, I learned some lessons and studied my games against ROBLES to beat him this time. I made some adjustments with my service, and it helped me,” said URSU.

On his way to the Olympics, URSU overcame top seed Alvaro ROBLES of Spain to avenge his defeat from the group stage, and Lubomir PISTEJ of Slovakia. In the first tournament, he was stopped by Yang WANG of Slovakia before overcoming Lubomir JANCARIK of Czechia. In the group stage, he overcame Ioannis SGOUROPOULOS of Greece and lost to ROBLES.

Somehow, URSU always managed to upset the favorites.

“Our federation does not have much money, and I am not able to travel much to collect points. When I come to the European Championships or rarely to the WTT tournaments, I always play well and create upsets,” explained URSU.

In another match, ZHMUDENKO overcame Yang WANG of Slovakia (11:6, 11:5, 11:5, 11:5). He ended the match by praising Ukraine.

“Last night, during the big boxing match, Oleksandr USYK beat Tyson FURY, and WORLD champion Denys BERINCHYK also won. All my family and friends told me that I could not lose. They all support me, and I support Ukraine. I dedicate this win to my people of Ukraine. It is unbelievable,” said ZHMUDENKO.

On two previous occasions, Yaroslav lost to WANG.

“Today, I was focused and had great help from my coach, who joined my team thanks to OVTCHAROV. I am also thankful to my Federation and the German Federation for allowing me to practice with the national team,” said ZHMUDENKO.

Ukraine's player admitted that he had great doubts after his defeat against BOBOCICA.

“It was a hard blow, but I stayed persistent, and round after round, I got better and better,” said ZHMUDENKO.

Yaroslav ZHMUDENKO overcame Cedric NUYTINCK of Belgium and Paul DRINKHALL of Great Britain. In the first tournament played two days earlier, he was halted in the third round in the match against Panagiotis GIONIS of Greece. Previously, he overcame Ovidiu IONESCU of Romania and Juan PEREZ of Spain. In the group stage, Yaroslav beat Aleksa GACEV of Serbia, Mattias MONGIUSTI from San Marino, but lost to Italy's Mihai BOBOCICA.