Top Europe Table Tennis Stars Qualify for Rio 2016
Courtesy of ITTF
Timo Boll has secured his place at Rio 2016 and will be looking to win his first individual medal.
10 men and 10 women European table tennis stars have secured their positions at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the ITTF-Europe Olympic Games Qualification Tournament held in Halmstad, Sweden.
Top names such as Timo BOLL (GER), Marcos FREITAS (POR), HAN Ying (GER) and LIU Jia (AUT) will join Dimitrij OVTCHAROV (GER) and LI Jiao (NED) in Rio, whom have secured their qualifications by becoming European Games champions in 2015.
Surprisingly, one of the 10 names to qualify for Rio 2016 was not world number eight, the highest ranked players in the tournament Vladimir SAMSONOV. SAMSONOV, who just turned 40, will have to wait to qualify through world rankings to secure his place at his sixth Olympic Games.
Current European Champion Elizabeta SAMARA, was also a surprise exclusion from the 10 women’s qualifiers from the ITTF-Europe Olympic Qualification Tournament, and will have a nervous wait to see if she will get a ticket to Rio through the world rankings.
World number 50 Denmark’s Jonathan GROTH shocked some higher ranked players to qualify for his first Olympic Games.
After the emotional charged match against world number 23 Simon GAUZY (FRA), the Dane stated: “It just means everything, it is everything that you work for; the training, the practice, the hours of effort. At the end of the match against Simon GAUZY, it was just a total release of pent up emotion. In these matches you keep fighting, fighting, it’s a mental battle.”
Local hero Matilda EKHOLM (SWE) had the entire stadium cheering for her as she managed to secure the final qualification position by beating Ukraine’s Tetyana BILENKO.
After winning the crucial match, EKHOLM stated: “Yes that’s true! I have a good record against Tetyana but you never know, you cannot take anything for granted. I think it is more so in a competition like this one here in Halmstad. You must think of it as a totally new match and forget what has gone before.”
The surprise packets from the Perfect 2016 World Team Table Tennis Championships, the English pair of Paul DRINKHALL and Liam PITCHFORD were not able to replicate their form from Kuala Lumpur and failed to qualify in Halmstad.
Full list of European Olympic Qualifiers:
- GIONIS Panagiotis (GRE)
- BOLL Timo (GER)
- FREITAS Marcos (POR)
- STEGER Bastian (GER)
- APOLONIA Tiago (POR)
- SHIBAEV Alexander (RUS)
- GERELL Par (SWE)
- TOKIC Bojan (SLO)
- LEBESSON Emmanuel (FRA)
- GROTH Jonathan (DEN)
- KOU Lei (UKR)
- HAN Ying (GER)
- SOLJA Petrissa (GER)
- HU Melek (TUR)
- YU Fu (POR)
- LI Jie (NED)
- LI Qian (POL)
- MIKHAILOVA Polina (RUS)
- LIU Jia (AUT)
- LI Jie (NED)
- LI Fen (SWE)
- Matilda EKHOLM (SWE)