The Men in Red Driving the Bus

The Super coach – on his feet’s !

Table Tennis in the 2012 Olympics day nr six ,  and we have for the individual events arrived at , to use a phrase from the brilliant PA announcer here at Excel –  Jonny Cowan, “ the business end of things”. 

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Jonny is by the way one of the very best – a great addition to the ITTF Media hoard commentating on ITV and the world feed from championships , and here in London 2012 working the crowd as the public announcer . Got to love his Northern Irish accent that adds what you might call “a touch of spring” to the English language?!

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Not surprising all the more glowing medals in the singles event will eventually land with the Chinese players and coaches.  Perhaps LIU Guoliang also gets a medal of some sort or perhaps even better, a healthy contribution to his pension fund back home in China. It has certainly been interesting to look at his energetic bench work the last few days.

The Chinese super coach has been jumping up and down on his chair, playing each and every point and consuming bottle after bottle of water assumingly to calm his nerves. But that’s all over for a day or two as he can watch Zhang JIKE and WANG Hao battle it out this afternoon.  I think it’s going to be a good one, in fact the ultimate matchup, especially from the “come drama” point of view.  Didn’t we all sense the genuine, but yet respectful “dislike” between these two in the Rotterdam World championships final back in 2011?

My guess is that the “Tibetan fighting dog” – ZHANG Jike will take the gold in the end.  He is loose now – running around in the court with more bounce than in the early pressure rounds.  Clearly an animal to avoid once let off leash in the dog park.

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A few words of coaches’ wisdom ( if it still works on the European top dogs;-) might be the only thing now stopping Dimitrij OVTCHAROV from taking the final step from pretender to contender. He was given an A+ rating for his early round action by the Eleven Point Blog and I will stand by my opinion that the 24 year old German is the only threat to the Chinese dominance coming from Europe at this moment.  In fact I am pretty sure that Dima four years from now in Rio 2016 will have another go at the title. By then he should however learn to at times take the rallies as they come – learn to stabilize his thoughts and use the ten to fifteen seconds offered between a lost point and the next rally to visibly collect energy in a positive way. I know that we are talking about the last 3-5 % on the performance scale right here and now. But I have many times said that Dima is what I call a “hard” thinker of the game – one of these players who at times , especially under heavy pressure is chasing points with  power rather than letting the game flow take over.  Perhaps I am wrong here – but I counted something like five or six unforced and rushed errors coming from his strong sides (backhand) this morning.   That’s OK to win in any European competition these days – but it will eventually put you in a deep hole against the men in red.

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