Two Current Stars Withdraw, Two Stars of Yesteryear Venerable Replacements
Courtesy of ITTF
Injury has forced both Germany’s Dimitrij Ovtcharov and Chinese Taipei’s Chuang Chih-Yuan out of the forthcoming Perfect 2016 World Team Championships, which commence in the Malaysian capital city of Kuala Lumpur on Sunday February 28th.
Notably it will be the 17th appearance for Werner Schlager in a World Championships, having made his debut in Chiba in 1991; for Zoran Primorac, it will be one more, he first appeared in 1987 in New Delhi.
The addition of the two veteran stars adds stability to the respective teams, the absence of Dimitrij Ovtcharov and Chuang Chih-Yuan, currently the highest ranked players in their national teams, is a massive blow to medal hopes.
Two years ago in Tokyo at the ZEN-NOH World Team Championships, Chuang Chih-Yuan was pivotal to Chinese Taipei’s bronze medal; his contest against Joo Saehyuk, when he saved one match point before beating the world’s top defender was arguably the most crucial match of the whole tournament.
Had he lost that point, the bronze medal would have been in Korean hands.
Similarly, fast forward to the Men’s final, it was there Dimitrij Ovtcharov dented China’s perfect record by beating Zhang Jike.
“In the next three weeks I will undergo an intensive rehab program, hoping that Ill again be fully resilient afterwards” said Dimitrij Ovtcharov. “It is is one of the toughest moments for me in my sporting career; after winning three silver medals in a row and great experiences at World Team Championships, this one is the first World Championships that I have to cancel since I debuted in 2007.”
Again Fates Conspire Against Germany
Once again as a major championships looms, German hopes have been blighted.
At the TMS 2014 European Team Championships in Lisbon, Patrick Baum was forced to withdraw owing to the tragic death of his father, in the early stages Patrick Franziska twisted his ankle and could take no further part. At the last minute, Dimitrij Ovtcharov, not fully recovered from dental surgery, a shadow of his normal self, was drafted into team.
Meanwhile, last year, Timo Boll fell ill at the European Games. Also, he was not fit enough to compete in the Liebherr 2015 European Championships or earlier this year at the 2016 Europe Top 16.
“It is, of course very sad moment for the team and for me but I do not want to jeopardize my participation at the Olympics Games”, added Dimitrij Ovtcharov. “Health is an absolute priority; now is still very early and I hope to be in good shape for Rio”.
Steffen Mengel, a member of Germany’s silver medal winning team two years ago in Tokyo replaces Dimitrij Ovtcharov.