By now, Table Tennis day + 1, it’s all over for this time. The ITTF competition manager Karl Jindrak and LOCOG engineer Richard Scruton have left the arena , I am sure together with all the equipment and the shining blue floor used for the Olympic TT dance ; London 2012.
Brave thinkers have already started to dream about Rio 2016 – the nr one place to be for sporting fans four years from now. That’s how strong the power of the rings really is. We are all – players – officials and fans intrigued and attracted by the Olympic Games – and why shouldn’t we? This is the ultimate celebration of sports and at the same time a world movement unlike anything else.
London 2012 was an organizational success for all sports. As much as we, in Table Tennis, can celebrate the number of spectators that showed and the quality of our sport, almost all sports were heavily supported by the Brits who came out in numbers to support the Olympic idea.
When it comes to the results in Table Tennis – as we predicted all the gold medals are travelling Far East to China. For a moment, in the singles competition, we had a sense that the Olympic pressure could victimise one or two of the favored Chinese players – but it was not to be. In the team event on the other hand – it was game over almost from the beginning as the men and women in red showed up with their egos tucked away and came to player for each other – for the coaches and for their country.
How impressive was it not to see a player like WANG Hao in yesterday’s final?! Here we have a three time Olympic silver medalist, sitting out the two first singles. and then stepping in as the best player on court for the doubles. Not only was he the best player in the doubles match – he also brought the spirit and team effort that always will make the TEAM better and by that paving the way for the other players to perform with less pressure.
The Korean Men’s team should be credited for making a good solid effort in the final. The likes of OH Sangeun, RYU Seungmin and JOO Seahyuk rolled up their sleeves and performed up to their collective maximum in a contest that very well might be the last appearance from three players that over a period of ten years now repeatedly has been a threat to the Chinese dominance. They won not only two games but also the respect of the audience who clearly enjoyed the match.
Having seen Timo BOLL and company try to break the Chinese wall two times now – in Dortmund and here in London. where they actually had some opportunities to succeed, the number one learning lesson for the Germans and everybody else must be – COME TOGETHER as a TEAM and sign that pivotal agreement to take on the challenge of winning.
To do that you will any day of the week need three individual players on court – fully committed to play for each other and with their egos parked outside the arena. Right now it seems like the Germans want it – but are not ready just yet. If they were – Dimitrij OVTCHAROV would have forgotten some unforced errors made in the finishing stages of the third game in his opening match against MA Long in the semi-final and moved on to grab the opportunity to succeed – perhaps not with a win but with a close and team building five gamer instead of bowing out quickly and at least mentally giving up. Dima lost 1o straight points in the fourth game following a break where he elected to instead of being coachable spending the entire one minute dwelling on his mistakes and in my opinion paying very little attention to coach Jorg ROSSKOPF and his advice.
Another interesting factor was the performance of Bastian STEGER. I know that “Basti” can play good table tennis. In fact he is currently ranked 24 in the world. It was amazing to watch how the Olympic pressure basically ate up STEGER who never looked comfortable in the court at any times during the games. The Germans need to find a third player that can lift the team and play good doubles – they key to success with this playing system.
If they Chinese men had to sweat a little bit – the Chinese women, on the other hand cruised to victory. With the Singaporean ladies seemingly struggling to improve the last few year, the youngsters from Japan is the only threat to total dominance in Rio 2016. But for the heat to be turned up a notch we need a player like Kasumi ISHIKAWA to start progressing the way I think she can. This is a talented young girl with plenty of touch and skill. She should be able to improve her overall game – but MUST become better in service and attack with MUCH more variation in placement and spin in order to stand any chance to catch up to DING Ning and company.
Let us close out this post with the recall of a moment that emotionally moved me to tears. Following the award ceremony the Chinese men’s team walked back to the podium together with coach LIU Guoliang – put him up on the podium and placed three gold medals around his neck. Take that folks out there as the ultimate evidence of the TEAM first spirit needed to win the most treasured medal in sports ; The OLYMPIC Gold medal.