Swaythling - No.113 - October 2023

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Issue No.113 / October 2023

SWAYTHLING https://swaythlingclub.com

Unbelievable Werner Schlager still astounded

HOMEWARD BOUND London bid wins vote in Bangkok

Sayonara Kasumi Japanese star reflects on career highlights

Océan Belrose ● Jean-Philippe Gatien ● Peter Karlsson ● Giulia Takahashi


SWAYTHLING Issue No.113 / October 2023


You are World Champion for life!

Jean-Philippe Gatien

Editor & Design: Ian Marshall Sub Editor & Promotion: Richard Scruton Statistics: Günther Angenendt, Igor Heller, Matt Solt Contributors: Reto Bazzi, Océan Belrose, Claude Bergeret, Karl Børre, Nicolas Burgos, Thomas Busa, Butterfly, Laila Galvez, Peter

Karlsson, Miran Kondric, Kasumi Ishikawa, Fabio Marcotulli, Paloma Mutti, Nicolae Ochiana, Olalekan Okusan, Nicolae Ochiana, Werner Schlager, Ebby Schöler, Petra Sörling, Stag, Paul Stimpson, Giulia Takahashi Photographs: Océan Belrose, Clix Pix, French Table Tennis Federation, International Table Tennis Federation, Moezz Fellab, Rémy Gros, Michael Loveder, Fabio Marcotulli, Alba Pacheco, Guido Schiefer,

Manfred Schillings, Ebby Schöler, Stag, Table Tennis England, Brage Titlestad, World Table Tennis Published by: Swaythling Club International Swaythling Club International Executive Committee: Claude Bergeret (President), Reto Bazzi (Deputy President), Harvey Webb (Secretary), Richard Scruton (Treasurer), Zdenko Kriz, Lilamani de Soysa, Gloria Wagener

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CONSOLIDATING FRIENDSHIP The principles of the Swaythling Club.


UNBELIEVABLE Werner Schlager looks back 20 years.


ALLEZ PHILOU Jean-Philippe Gatien recalls 30 years ago.


SAYONARA KASUMI Kasumi Ishikawa career highlights.


TAHITIAN PRIDE Océan Belrose local hero.


SAME SPORT BUT DIFFERENT CHALLENGE Peter Karlsson, player to coach.


SIGN OF THE TIMES Names to note born this century.


LANDMARKS Milestones in Durban.

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PREVENTIVE MEASURES Shoulder injuries.


CREATING THE ATMOSPHERE The European Veteran Championships.


ARUBA GEM Incredible collection in the Caribbean.


AFRICAN ACHIEVERS Catching the eye.


THROUGH THE EYE OF THE CAMERA A supplement recording success in pictures.

HOMEWARD BOUND England wins bid in Bangkok.

DIANE SCHÖLER A tribute to a World champion.

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Claude Bergeret, President of the Swaythling Club International, describes the major missions and objectives promoted by the organisation.

resented for the best sporting behaviour by a player at a national competition or World Championships; the Richard Bergmann Fair Play Award reflects the very essence of the Swaythling Club International. Formed in 1967, the principal aim was to bring together players who had competed in a World Championships to meet socially. Over the years criteria for membership has widened to include Olympic Games, Continental Championships and Para competitions of a similar level. In addition to players; coaches and officials are now included, as is anyone who has made a distinguished contribution to the sport of table tennis. On a day-to-day basis, the missions and objectives are to bring together members to contribute to the development of the game, to consolidate friendship between nations, to help each other and anyone in need, as well as to meet frequently and promote the understanding of fair play amongst the younger generation. Always, we have supported the International Table Tennis Federation. In collaboration with the ITTF Foundation, the club grants and distributes aid to countries hit by natural disasters. Earlier this year in February, following earthquakes, aid was given to the Turkish Table Tennis Federation. Furthermore, we try to keep the history of our sport alive, our more senior members, in particular, possess an immense reservoir of knowledge. Join us, we will be pleased to welcome you!

>> Swaythling Club Membership Form 4 SWAYTHLING October 2023


Consolidating Friendship

`ä~ìÇÉ=_ÉêÖÉêÉí=éêÉëÉåíë=íÜÉ== oáÅÜ~êÇ=_ÉêÖã~åå=c~áê=mä~ó= ^ï~êÇ=íç=t~åÖ=váÇá=~í=íÜÉ= OMOP=tçêäÇ=`Ü~ãéáçåëÜáéë October 2023 SWAYTHLING 5

Homeward Bound T

he announcement on Thursday 24th August at the ITTF Summit in Bangkok was crystal clear: “in 2026 the World Table Tennis Championships will be played in London”, the city where a century earlier the inaugural event had been staged and the International Table Tennis Federation officially formed. ABOVE Steve Dainton, Petra Sörling, Sandra Deaton, Richard Scruton and Adrian Christy following the announcement in Bangkok. OPPOSITE The successful Swedish bow tie brigade at the Paris 2013 Annual General Meeting.

At a meeting held on Sunday 12th December 1926 in the library of Ivor Montagu’s father’s house at 20 Kensington Court, the official Constitution was formulated and elections to office agreed. Ivor Montagu (England) was voted Chairman, C.H. Hallett (Wales) was named English Language Secretary and Jan Gerke (Czechoslovakia) became German Language Secretary. Additionally, an Advisory Board was named comprising Dr A.H. Fyzee (India), Bela von Kehrling (Hungary), Dr Richard Pick (Germany),

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Dr Carl Linde (Sweden) and Fritz Zinn (Germany). All men but we must not judge by hindsight, for example at the time in England, women had to be over 30 years old to have the right to vote; times have changed but it has taken time. In Bangkok, Petra Sörling, the first ever female President of the International Table Tennis Federation, made the announcement, one which ignited an emotional response from Sandra Deaton, the Chair of Table Tennis England, she hugged Adrian Christy, her Chief Executive, in unbridled delight. It was a moment neither will ever forget. “Being awarded the 2026 World Championships is a result of a journey Table Tennis England has embraced over a significant period of time, being brought together over the last few months under the incredible leadership of our CEO Adrian Christy.” Sandra Deaton


Deservedly, that position is also filled by a woman, Jill Parker, when known as Jill Hammersley, amongst many accolades, three times Europe top 12 winner, European champion in 1976 in Prague. Allocating the 2026 World Team Championships Finals to England means that Sandra Deaton becomes the second female head of an ITTF member association, in office at the time, when a successful bid was made to host a World Championships. Significantly, you do not have to turn the clock back too far in order to find the first incumbent.

Petra Sörling had been elected to the position of President of the Swedish Table Tennis Association a few months prior to the successful bid presentation at the 2013 ITTF Annual General Meeting in Paris for the 2018 World Team Championships in Halmstad. Alongside the well-known Jörgen Persson, David Gustafsson (Secretary General of Swedish Table Tennis Association) and Johan Lundberg (Chief Executive Officer of Destination Halmstad), she was on stage as a member of the bow tie bid brigade. Female influence and it was present at the very beginning but in a different guise, not one of leadership, one of support; had it not been for a woman the oldest trophy within the ITTF collection may never have been made. The English Table Tennis Association was reluctant to accept the proposal made by Ivor Montagu and Bill Pope, the Secretary of the English Table Tennis Association, to host what was be the first ever World Championships. Agreement was only reached after Ivor


Predominantly, in most countries the person at the helm of the member association is the President. England has to be different otherwise it wouldn’t be England, national pride, Brexit, the currency Pound Sterling not the Euro, driving on the left as opposed to the rest of Europe on the right. The equivalent in Table Tennis England to that of President is Chair, just as it was one hundred years ago for Ivor Montagu. The President is an honorary position bestowed on a person, highly regarded.

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Montagu, only 22 years old, announced he would personally meet all possible losses up to Ł300; taking devaluation into account, in 2023, approximately Ł33,400 (US$42,000). Fortunately, the actual loss proved half the guaranteed amount; to reduce expenses, Lady Swaythling, Montagu’s mother, donated the men’s team trophy. At the time, that event was regarded as the premier contest, not the individual competitions; somewhat of an anomaly as table tennis is primarily and individual sport. It is from that name, the Swaythling Club International, initially for players who had competed in World Championships was formed in 1967; the organisation continues to this day, in particular supporting the ITTF Foundation. Again, there is female presence, since 2021 Claude Bergeret, winner of the mixed doubles title at the 1977 World Championships, alongside the late Jacques Secretin, is the President. Claude Bergeret is the organisation’s second female President, when the name of the first is mentioned, tears fill the eye, Diane Schöler, who sadly passed away earlier this year in June, was the President of the Swaythling Club from 1997 to 2013. On the most recent occasion when the Wembley Arena hosted a World Championships, the year 1954, under her maiden name, Rowe, alongside her twin sister, Rosalind, the pair secured the women’s doubles title. Not only did they win the top prize; they won on Wednesday 14th April, their 21st birthday; totally unique in sport. National heroines, it is sad that neither will be present in the Wembley Arena in 2026 to remember their finest hour. We remember but also, we look forward, we look forward to a World Championships in an iconic venue, the centennial; whatever the outcome a moment in history; moreover, with greater gender equality than ever previously witnessed.

>> England wins bid in Bangkok 8 SWAYTHLING October 2023


OVO Arena Wembley ........a short walk to the 300 bedroom Hilton hotel ........practice tables situated at Wembley stadium ........Field of play comprising 3,000 square metres ........A total of 16 warm-up courts ........Eight tables in the main arena ........Overall 6,500 seats available each day

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Unbelievable O

n Sunday 25th May at the Liebherr 2003 World Championships in the Parisien suburb of Bercy, 30 years old at the time, Werner Schlager described winning the men’s singles title as unbelievable; now two decades later his opinion is still the same. An incredible achievement, one that becomes even more incredible as the ensuing years unfold. Now, the longest period of time in the history of the World Championships has elapsed when a European

player has not stood on the top step of the men’s singles podium. The fact pays great credit to China who in that span of time has always provided the winner, it also pays great credit to Werner Schlager, it underlines his quality as a player and as a person. At the beginning of May 2003, he was named at no.6 on the World rankings, the previous month at no.4; that status suggests he was in line for a major honour. However, one month prior to Bercy, at the European Championships in Courmayeur, although he won the mixed doubles partnering Krisztina Toth, the second seed in the men’s singles, he did not reach the later stages. He was beaten in the third round (last 32) by Jean-Philippe Gatien. Defeat at the hands of the World champion from 10 years earlier was not a great upset, but it did not suggest that Schlager was in such bristling form that one month later the coveted St Bride Vase would be in his possession. Furthermore, it was the first World Championships that witnessed the 11point scoring system, as opposed to the 21point system; service changing after two points not five as previously. The format did not necessarily suit Schlager, he was noted for his wide range of most effective services.

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“To adapt to 11 points was difficult for me. Always my asset was the variability of my game, especially regarding my service; when playing to 21, I had five serves in a row to try on my opponent. Now, I had only two in a row”, explained Schlager. “I had to completely restructure my tactics when serving. Eventually I had to scrap some of my variations and focus more on the remaining ones.” Subtle changes, Werner Schlager adapted, an ability required from the start of the Bercy journey. Facing Nigeria’s Segun Toriola, he lost his very first game of the tournament; eventually recovering to win the next four. “The first round is always difficult. You need to get used to the playing conditions; that was partly why I lost the first game against Toriola. Also, he has a unique playing style, I managed to get used to it and to his serves. He was very focused on stepping around and winning points with his forehand; this gave me plenty of opportunities to catch him with a quick and strong backhand block down the parallel.” A possible banana skin had been avoided; in the next round he negotiated a straight games success against Japan’s Koji Matsushita, before overcoming Serbia’s Slobodan Grujic with only the loss of the fourth game. “Against Koji I felt I controlled the match all the time; he was an oldstyle defender, waiting for my mistakes and not really dangerous on his attacks. I adapted quickly to his spin variations and felt very confident”, explained Schlager. “Grujic, I knew from the youth times, as a young player his forehand had been a major factor in his success; I felt I could control every other part of his play, especially his backhand; when it came to serve and receive, I felt confident, those were the areas on which I focused.”

WERNER SCHLAGER Very different styles of play, in the fourth round there was yet another variety, the dynamic Korean, Kim Taeksoo “As a young player he was my idol, so I was well aware of his style; always I liked to play against the classic penholder; a strong forehand, the backhand used to control the ball but relatively weak”, explained Schlager. “I played the first ball wide to his forehand and tried to block his topspin play wide to his backhand, nailing him in that area and winning points with my strong backhand topspin; in addition, I tried to trouble him with a variety of strong serves.” It was a contest between players from different eras, a time when penholders, who used just one side of the racket only, were disappearing rapidly from the scene. “Old style players, like Kim Taeksoo needed time to play their strong forehands, so they moved backwards from the table, it gave the newer generation the opportunity to win points from either forehand or backhand by staying close to the table”, continued Schlager. “Nevertheless, his massive experience and intelligence made it a very hard battle.” Schlager won in six games, an entertaining contest but quite mild when compared with the drama that was to follow against China’s Wang Liqin, the defending champion. One of the most dramatic games ever witnessed at a World Championships ensued. Wang Liqin appeared to be all but home and dry, he led by three games to two and in the sixth went 8-5 ahead; Ferenc Karsai, the Austrian national coach, called what must rank as one of the best time outs in the history of sport.

Now in 2023 still bemused by the events of 20 years ago

After each match, as he departed


Seemingly dejected to the eyes of the uninitiated but actually deep in thought, Schlager walked slowly to the courtside barrier. The mannerisms reflected his character, always thinking, always planning ways to win a point and always well aware of the return he might receive when directing a certain stroke to a certain area.

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from the arena, he was deep in thought, giving the impression that already he was preparing for next round, the smiling was left to Karl Jindrak, his close friend and doubles partner. One wondered if he was not even more pleased than Schlager himself, and if you need a commentary on that match against Wang Liqin, Karl Jindrak can relate events second by second. The players returned; Wang Liqin went ahead 9-6 after Schlager sportingly acknowledged the ball had hit 12 SWAYTHLING October 2023

his shirt. A long backspin serve from Wang Liqin was not returned, four match points. Incredibly all four were saved, at 1110 Schlager held game point, Wang Liqin saved before another chance for Schlager arose at 12-11; then a moment of good fortune, a return from Schlager clipped the top of the net changing the speed and trajectory of the ball, Wang Liqin missed the ball, a seventh game beckoned. Back in action Wang Liqin won the

first two points of the seventh game but at 6-4 it was advantage Schlager. Dumfounded, demoralised, nervous in the extreme, Wang Liqin won just one more point. Success against the reigning World champion booked a semi-final place, success against the reigning Olympic champion, Kong Linghui, reserved a place in the final, a contest in which Schlager was once again on the precipice of defeat. At the time Kong Linghui could well

WERNER SCHLAGER LEFT TO RIGHT Round Four Kim Taeksoo beaten in six games. Quarter-Final Wang Liqin eventually overcome after four match points had been saved. Semi-Final Kong Linghui succumbed in yet another gripping seven games contest. Final Despair for Joo Saehyuk, delight for Werner Schlager, the title secured.

Totally contrary to character, Kong Linghui missed opportunities. “I had chances, the key was the third game, I led 7-3 and lost”, said Kong Linghui immediately after the match. Furthermore, at 12-11 in the decid-

ing game another opportunity slipped away when he held his one and only match point. Devastation for Kong Linghui, not just a berth in the final was denied; the defeat affected his World ranking, it meant a place in the men’s singles at the Athens 2004 Olympic Games was denied; he was not able to defend the title won Sydney. Progress to the final and if Schlager had been given a chance to select who he would wish to face in the

title decider, Joo Saehyuk would have been high on the list. “I felt confident before the final because Joo Saehyuk’s playing style was very similar to that of Chen Weixing”, stressed Schlager. “It was good for me that I met him in the final, I knew how to play against that style inside out!” The final point secured, Ferenc Karsai, the coach, Hermann Schmid, the physiotherapist and Hans Friedinger, as always, the Austrian scarf draped


be regarded as the safest player on planet earth, he didn’t take extreme risks, when the semi-finalists were known, he was the clear favourite, in the opposite half of the draw, Joo Saehyuk faced Kalin Kreanga.

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The Bercy Journey Round One Segun Toriola (NGR) -4,9,5,6,9 Round Two Koji Matsushita (JPN) 8,9,7,8 Round Three Slobodan Grujic (SRB) 7,8,10,-6,14 Round Four Kim Taeksoo (KOR) -5,3,11,10,-10,8 Quarter-Final Wang Liqin (CHN) -5,5,-8,-13,9,11,5

>> Werner Schlager v Wang Liqin Semi-Final Kong Longhui (CHN) 9,-7,10,8,-8,-7,12

>> Werner Schlager v Kong Linghui Final Joo Saehyuk (KOR) 9,6,-6,10,-8,10

>> Werner Schlager v Joo Saehyuk

around his neck, sped into the arena to hug their hero. Rudi Sporrer, the General Secretary of the Austrian Table Tennis Federation, followed soon after. “Notably, the Chinese media speculated that Hans Friedinger was my father”, smiled Schlager. “At the time he was President of the Upper Austria Table Tennis Association and Vice President of the Austrian Table Tennis Federation; later he became President of the Austrian Table Tennis Federation; he is one of my closest friends.”. Simply an incredible moment, for those sitting or standing in the tribunes, a moment none will ever forget. “It was just absolutely unbelievable; 14 SWAYTHLING October 2023

my goal was the quarter-finals and perhaps a medal if everything went my way; playing and winning in front of a crowd of ten thousand people all going crazy; it was like a dream!” sighed Schlager. “It’s hard to describe how I felt, if you are going to win a big event you need the luck of the draw.” Undoubtedly fortune did shine on the brow of Werner Schlager but is that not the scenario that applies to each and every player who wins a big event? “Directly after the match there was of course a lot of media attention in the mixed zone. After the prize ceremony and doping test, the whole Austrian delegation celebrated that evening in a very pleasant restaurant”, added Schlager. “When I flew

back home with Austrian Airlines I was even invited to the cockpit by the captain during landing in Vienna; that was awesome.” One most memorable event after another; difficult to realise it is now over two decades ago. “At the airport in Schwechat, Vienna, of course there was media, politicians, family and fans cheering and welcoming me”, continued Schlager. “Still, to this day, I meet people telling me that they watched the final live on television; they are very positive, heartwarming memories.” Adulation, Werner Schlager was in a daze, in a different sphere, the question he asked himself time and again, why me?

WERNER SCHLAGER LEFT Hans Friedinger & Hermann Schmid were the cheer leaders who led Austrian support. Ferenc Karsai guided Werner Schlager to the title. The Bercy Journey round by round results. Ceremony The title, the St Bride Vase held aloft for all to see. RIGHT Richard Bergmann is the only other Austrian born player to win the men’s singles title at a World Championships.

Saving Match Points The men’s singles semi-final at the 1948 World Championships in London, best of five games, witnessed an epic. Facing Richard Bergmann, Ivan Andreadis won the opening two games; he lost the third, before in the fourth leading 19-16 and 20-18.

“It took a couple of months until I got used to the fact that I was the World champion; now, every year that passes I am more and more astounded by my abilities back then”, sighed Schlager. “It feels almost a little surreal watching myself play the final, remembering exactly what and why I did what I did in that match. I have changed so much on a personal level; it is not easy for me to identify with that younger version of myself.” The younger version of himself was certainly a very astute character, one that coped with immense pressure, one that seized opportunities and produced one of the most memorable performances ever known, not just in table tennis but in the whole history of sport; in Bercy for Werner Schlager the unbelievable became believable.

Bergmann saved both match points, he saved again at 21-20, then secured three in a row to level the contest. In the fifth game Andreadis led 9-4, Bergmann recovered to win 21-16 and proceeded to beat Bohumil Vana in the final. In Bercy, Werner Schlager saved a total of five match points, four against Wang Liqin, one in opposition to Kong Linghui. Werner Schlager is the only player to win the men’s singles title at a World Championships, saving match point against two different players; add his heroic efforts to those of Richard Bergmann and the total is eight. At the time in 1948 Richard Bergmann represented England but he was born and bred in Austria; he had defected following the 1938 annexation of Austria by Germany. Thus, Austrian born players who progressed to win the men’s singles title at a World Championships have saved more match points, in a period of what is now approaching 100 years, than the rest of the winners put together! Must be something in the blood! October 2023 SWAYTHLING 15

Allez Philou

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cauldron of excitement, a sense of anticipation, no place for the faint hearted, whether player or spectator; in Gothenburg’s Scandinavium at the 1993 World Championships on Sunday 23rd May, now 30 years ago, Jean-Philippe Gatien won the men’s singles title, to this date the only ever Frenchman to hold high the precious St Bride Vase.


Led by his late father, René, two bugles pursed in his lips and blown in unison, French support was frenetic, the battle cry “Allez Philou”, the name by which from a very young age Jean-Philippe was anointed by his family and continued when 12 years old on arriving at INSEP, the national training centre in Paris. Somehow “Allez Jean-Philippe” does not have the same melodic ring! In a tension packed final, he beat Jean-Michel Saive; the only time in a World Championships men’s singles title decider that the first language of both players has been the same but the players in question have been from different countries. Furthermore, it is the only time each adversary has had a double-barrelled given name. Logic would suggest it was the perfect time for Gatien. At 24 years of age, he was a seasoned competitor, no superstitions, a well-oiled preparation programme in place. In 1992 he had won the men’s singles title at the English Open, later in the year he had been the silver medallist at the Olympic Games in Barcelona. Surely, these performances were a rich source of motivation for Gothenburg. “Not really, in a World Championships you are motivated, you need nothing else; certainly, the final in Barcelona was a valuable experience, it’s difficult to quantify, it helped me prepare and be ready for the final in Gothenburg”, reflected Gatien. “I remember clearly in Barcelona beating Atanda Musa in my second group match; after the match he told me I played like a machine gun!” Rapid fire, as the year closed, surely more were destined to experience 18 SWAYTHLING October 2023

THE FINAL Jean-Philippe Gatien moves relentlessly to securing the title, Wang Dayong, the coach of Jean-Michel Saive watches intently

the fate of the renowned Nigerian. “Not at all, in fact it was quite the opposite; from September to December 1992, I didn’t win a single match; all in the best interests of promoting table tennis, I always attending receptions, giving exhibitions, there was no time to practise, no time to rest, I was going to hell!” explained Gatien. “I agreed with my coach to stop for six weeks, no table tennis at all, when I started again, slowly my level returned.” Back from despair, in the men’s team event in Gothenburg, taking into consideration all that had gone before in the preceding months, he could be pleased with his efforts, he won 14 of his 17 matches. “The team event really helped me find my level, my rhythm and con-

fidence returned, it was very tiring playing both men’s team and men’s singles, physically I was not so good but mentally I felt very strong”, stressed Gatien. “It makes me think, I know it’s necessary in order to make the sport more visible but nowadays just one match a day, or every two days; times have changed!” A quarter-final finish, losing 3-2 to DPR Korea, Jean-Philippe was rested for the play-off matches to determine fifth to eight positions; his physical condition was not the best, in fact on one day he suffered a high temperature. A rest was needed, it proved highly beneficial. Refreshed, he accounted for Luxembourg’s Daniel Wintersdorff in straight games in the men’s singles opening round; higher ranked he was expected to win.


The first round negotiated, next came Hungary’s Karoly Nemeth followed by DPR Korea’s Kim Song Hui, matches of a very different nature. Against Karoly Nemeth, Gatien recovered from an opening game reverse to win the next three. Opposing Kim Song Hui, a player against whom earlier he had experienced defeat in the men’s team event, after securing the opening two games, he had to withstand a spirited recovery before securing a full distance win.

“Playing Nemeth was not easy, his close to the table blocking style was difficult for me; in the first game I was tense, throughout my technique was not good enough, mentally I was fine”, explained Gatien. “Kim Song Hui was a penholder, I liked playing against that style, I won the first two games quite easily but then fell asleep!”

Road to Victory

Winning a close contest is always a confidence booster; memorably his wins in the later stages at the Barcelona 1992 Olympic Games against Yoo Namkyu, the defending champion, followed by Ding Yi and Ma Wenge, had all been full distance five games contests.

Round Four Vladimir Samsonov (BLR) 17,-20,15,20

Through to the last 16, a young Belarussian named Vladimir Samsonov awaited, Gatien prevailed in four games.

Final: Jean-Michel Saive (BEL) 19,-17,14,-17,18


“A first round is always a first round, always hard to manage, it’s not like a team event when you have a second chance”, said Gatien. “I was a little tense, you must adopt the correct approach, respect your opponent and be in a good mental condition.”

Round One Daniel Wintersdorff (LUX) 16,8,12 Round Two Karoly Nemeth (HUN) -13,16,9,14 Round Three Kim Song Hui (PRK) 16,16,-17,-17,16

Quarter-Final Andras Podpinka (BEL) 12,26,-17, -10, 17 Semi-Final: Zoran Primorac (CRO) -12,16,-17,16,11

>> The men’s singles final in Gothenburg October 2023 SWAYTHLING 19

“I was very happy to win the fourth game against Vladi, I felt that he was finding out how to beat me, had I not won that game my feeling is I may well have lost; I was in a stranglehold”, recalled Gatien. “He was young, he was intelligent; he played in a different rhythm to other players; we all knew he would become a high-level player.” The prediction proved correct, Samsonov’s smooth style, a certain elegance, seemingly having more time to play than most mortals has delighted crowds around the world, very different to Gatien’s next opponent in Gothenburg, Belgium’s Andras Podpinka; the full five games was needed to secure a hard fought victory. “He was not a classical player, he took risks, he did the unexpected; my rhythm was disrupted, he had very difficult serves, in fact on several occasions he was faulted by the umpire, that helped me”, reflected Gatien. “Not a nice memory, it was very tiring, I was lucky to win; most significantly we were playing for a medal, it was a high-pressure mach.” Forward to the semi-final, Croatia’s Zoran Primorac awaited, again a full distance duel. “Always good to play Zoki, things were positive for me, I could play at a good tempo; a “battle of the titans”, we were both physically exhausted”, continued Gatien. “In the vital fifth game I felt very solid, very assured.” Now the ultimate test, the final, Jean-Michel Saive awaited, a player in peak form; at the semi-final stage he had beaten the redoubtable JanOve Waldner. “I must confess I was pleased Waldner had lost! He was the most difficult player of all to play against, he’d beaten me in the Barcelona final but when he played at home, he did not always play that well, maybe too much expectation from the fans”, sighed Gatien. “Nevertheless, I was unsure about the final, big pressure, a mental fight, Jean-Mi is a fighter. It was a miracle I won the first game; I was down until the very end, winning that game gave me oxygen!” 20 SWAYTHLING October 2023

Similar to the quarter and semi-final contests, the match went the full five games. “Crucially in the fifth game, I was leading 15-14, a high return, Jean-Mi hit the ball off the end of the table; I went ahead 16-14; that was a big moment”, stressed Gatien. “A wonderful memory but I never want to play that match again!” Serving at 20-16, remember in those days service changed every five points, Gatien held four match points, the title was in sight. JeanMichel Saive won the next two points, before returning service into the net. Gatien sank to his knees, rolled over and returned courtside to receive congratulations from coach, Christian Martin. “The moment is difficult to describe, everything goes so quickly, you want things to last longer, you don’t have time to enjoy the moment and realise what has happened; I just wanted to sit on the floor for five minutes, alone and soak up the atmosphere”, sighed Gatien. “Everybody was coming to congratulate me, it was a proud moment for me, a proud moment for France, a result of 10 years hard work; it’s like an iceberg, you only see the tip, there is much more.” World champion, Gatien returned home to a hero’s welcome; his photo on the front page of L'Équipe, the most prominent of all French sporting publications. “Incredible, the welcome from the media was ten times more than the previous year when I returned home from Barcelona, a host of receptions”, recalled Gatien. “It was good for the French Table Tennis Federation, it was good for our sport, it was a reward for INSEP, a reward for all those who had supported me and for me, most special, you are World Champion for life!” Perpetual, an accolade for a very special sportsman, a role model, a credit not only to table tennis but to the whole sphere of sport, a credit to his nation, Jean-Philippe Gatien, forever World champion. Allez Philou!

JEAN-PHILIPPE GATIEN TOP Round Four Success against a young Vladimir Samsonov in four games. Quarter-Final Andras Podpinka took risks, he proved a most testing adversary. TOP Semi-Final Zoran Primorac, a match Gatien described as a “battle of the titans”. Final Jean-Philippe Saive a great fighter, the match was a mental battle.

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Sayonara Kasumi A career which started when seven years old, after 23 years of competitive play, Japan’s Kasumi Ishikawa announced her retirement in March 2023.

Kasumi Ishikawa reflects on her 12 most memorable moments.

“I have had the opportunity to go to many countries and regions around the world, this has given me valuable experience and allowed me to grow as a person. Now I feel I have done it all, I have decided to retire. It was after the Grand Smash competition in March in Singapore that I made up my mind to do so. The memories of my three Olympic appearances, the World Championships and the ITTF World Tour are very precious to me.” Kasumi Ishikawa

London 2012 Olympic Games The silver medal was the first table tennis medal for Japan in an Olympic Games, it was very special; the semi-final doubles win with Sayaka Hirano against Singapore’s Wang Yuegu and Li Jiawei to reach the final was so emotional. 22 SWAYTHLING October 2023

LEFT Sunday 5th August 2012 in the London ExCeL arena.

KASUMI ISHIKAWA TOP ROW Unbeaten throughout the women’s team event at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. A formidable partnership was formed with Mui Hirano at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. They lost just one match, that being in the final against China’s Chen Meng and Wang Manyu. SECOND ROW The mixed doubles winners at the 2017 World Championships in Düsseldorf, the first Japanese pair to claim the title since Nobuhiko Hasegawa and Yosuko Konno in 1969 in Munich.

>> The 2017 World Championships mixed doubles final

Rio 2016 Olympic Games We lost to Germany in the women’s team semifinals, but we beat Singapore to win bronze. I performed at my best level; I won my three matches. Against Germany I beat Han Ying and Shan Xiaona, against Singapore, Feng Tianwei.

All-Japan Championships 2021 I became the women’s singles champion for the fifth time. Also, winning the women’s singles title for the first time in five years and, in what became an Olympic year, was a thrilling moment for me.

Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games My third consecutive Olympic medal. I was also chosen as the vice-captain for Team Japan. The experience which I shared with Team Japan and all other countries and regions at the opening ceremony was most valuable.

Düsseldorf 2017 World Championships Throughout my career, always I trained and practised hard to try to win a gold medal at a major event. Winning the mixed doubles (partnering Maharu Yoshimura) was the very best moment for me.

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2010 World Junior Championships Contributing to the gold medal in the girls’ team event in Bratislava, in the final against China I beat both Gu Yuting and Zhu Yuling; it was the first time when I had beaten two Chinese players in the same match. Liebherr 2018 World Team Championships We played against the Korea Unified team in the semi-final. My match against Kim Song I was very difficult, she saved so many match points; finally, I was able to win the match All Japan Championships 2004: Hopes, Cubs, Bambi My first ever national title was when I was in the sixth grade at school (12 years old), I won the Hopes girls’ singles. It provided me with a great deal of motivation for the future. GAC Group 2014 ITTF World Tour Grand Finals We played in Bangkok, from the first match I played really well, I managed to keep that feeling throughout the whole tournament. It enabled me to win my first big title. 2019 ITTF North America Open The event was very important to me, in the women’s singles final I won against my colleague Miu Hirano, this helped me earn my selection for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. 2019 ITTF World Tour Platinum Australia Open In the women’s singles quarter-final I beat China’s Chen Meng; at the time she was the number one World ranked player. It gave me a lot of confidence, a huge step in my career. ZEN-NOH 2014 World Team Championships Being able to win the silver medal in the women’s team event in my home country, alongside Yuka Ishigaki and Sayaka Hirano; the big support from our fans was a great experience and achievement.

High Standards Kasumi Ishikawa …interviewed for Table Tennis Illustrated in 2006, she stated that her aim was to play in the 2012 Olympic Games and win a medal; she was true to her word. …is the only player, not from China, to win gold at both the World Championships and World Junior or World Youth Championships. …entered the World rankings at no.420 in March 2006, from January 2011 to May 2023 never below no.11; highest no.3 in February 2017, as well as in 2018 in March, April, May, November and December. …won nine ITTF World Tour women’s singles titles, more than any other player not born in China. …in under 21 women’s singles, she won 10 ITTF World Tour titles, more than any other player and any male counterpart; she is the only player to win the event at the Grand Finals in consecutive years (2011, 2012).

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TOP ROW The mainstay of Japan’s gold medal in the girls’ team event at the 2010 World Junior Championships in snowbound Bratislava. Victory at the 2018 World Championships by very narrowest of margins against Kim Song I (11-4, 6-11, 11-8, 1113, 16-14) in the second match of the semi-final fixture against Unified Korea. The win set Japan en route to a 3-0 win. At the GAC Group 2014 ITTF World Tour Grand Finals, just one game was dropped en route to the title, that being in her opening match when facing Yuka Ishigaki.

>> The final in Bangkok against Suh Hyowon CENTRE Emotional after beating Chen Meng at the 2019 ITTF World Tour Australian Open. BOTTOM ROW Winner at the Benemax Virgo ITTF Challenge Plus in Markham. Congratulations from teammates at the ZEN-NOH 2014 World Team Championships.

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OCEAN BELROSE timbang first round Chuqin exit until at the the final 2023 when World Championships Finals in Durban but for Océan Belrose it felt more like victory; he secured the fourth game against China’s Wang Chuqin, the eventual runner up and later in the first week of July, named in top spot on the ITTF Table Tennis Men’s World Ranking.


Considering the backgrounds of the two players, the comparison is stark; one is from a Polynesian paradise, the other from a mega metropolis. Océan Belrose is from Tahiti; an idyllic island located in the central Pacific Ocean, the nearest landmass being Australia over 3,500 miles distant. The population is less than 190,000; Va’a, outrigger canoe racing is very much the sport in which the island excels, World titles have come their way. Conversely, Wang Chuqin hails from a country whose population is estimated at some 1.5 billion, table tennis is high on the sporting agenda; success after success at the very highest level being the norm for over six decades. Notable differences and one more, Océan Belrose had to fund matters himself in order to compete, for Wang Chuqin no such headaches. “When the time came, I didn't have enough money, I had found sponsors Boyer Construction and Tahiti Nui Travel but if I had waited for the money to arrive, it would have been too late to buy the flight tickets”, reflected Océan Belrose. “So, my mum paid for the flights, and I paid her back.” One daunting task overcome, another awaited when he read the draw for the opening round of the men’s singles; for many the response would have been sheer trepidation, not Océan Belrose. He was not overawed, not trembling at the knees, quite the opposite, a cool dude. u

I told myself to give it my best shot, let’s go!

In fact, and Ma Long can be included on the list, no player bettered the scoreline against Wang Chuqin until the final when Fan Zhendong ended his compatriot’s aspirations.

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“I didn’t really prepare; I only practise two hours a week!” he smiled. “I’m a table tennis coach so I train players now; sometimes I practise with them to help them improve. At first when I knew I had to play against Wang Chuqin I felt terrible; then I told myself to give it my best shot, let’s go!” Relaxed, Océan Belrose made the most of the occasion; living in his part of the world, such a situation is not likely to happen on a regular basis, very much a once in a lifetime experience. “He was so fast, good quality on the ball all the time, very precise ball placement”, reflected Océan Belrose. “I felt like I had to move faster, play stronger, and closer to the table; also, I needed to surprise him with my serves. I took a “time-out” leading 7-6 in the fourth game because I knew it would be hard for me to win any game against Wang Chuqin.” The break worked, Océan won the game 11-9; a special moment, a moment of which both himself and Tahiti can reflect with pride. “I realised that I’m able to put top international players in difficulty by training only with Tahitians”, sighed Océan Belrose. “What could I achieve

Océan with girlfriend Johanna Ammar and mother Corinne

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if I was used to playing at top level?” One can only wonder; the opportunities to achieve sporting excellence in such island nations are limited but one can understand a reluctance to leave family and a home untroubled by the modern pace of urban life. “We don’t have lots of players and Tahiti is far from every country, so it’s expensive to travel and play against other good players”, Océan Belrose reflected. “I did play in France when I was studying there but that’s the only time I’ve played abroad.” Océan spent eight years in France, he studied in Toulouse, Poitiers and Montpellier, during that time he represented three clubs: TOAC in Toulouse, Poitiers TTACC and TTGP 1950 in Angoulęme. No doubt, in years to come, as he looks back over his career, even though he has enjoyed outstanding success in the Pacific region, his efforts in Durban will stand out as one of his major career highlights. Also, he can take heart in the theory often propounded: if you can win one game then you have the skills to beat that player in the future! Next time Océan Belrose, next time.

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS Pacific Games, Samoa, 2007 MD: Bronze (Tinihau Klouman) XD: Gold (Rachel Hsiao) Pacific Games, New Caledonia, 2011 MT: Gold (Alizé Belrose, Tinihau Klouman) XD: Gold (Melveen Richmond) Pacific Games, Papua New Guinea, 2015 MT: Gold (Alizé Belrose, Tinihau Klouman) MS: Bronze MD: Gold (Alizé Belrose) XD: Gold (Melveen Richmond) Pacific Games, Samoa, 2019 MT: Gold (Yvan Perromat, Kenji Hotan, Matahi Tarano) MS: Bronze Tahiti Championships 2022 MS: Gold Tahiti Championships 2023 MS: Gold MD: Silver (Alizé Belrose) XD: Gold (Prathna Jalim) ITTF Polynesian Championships Tahiti 2022 MS: Gold ITTF Polynesian Championships, Tahiti 2023 MS: Gold MD: Gold (Kenji Hotan) XD: Gold (Prathna Jalim)

OCEAN BELROSE Date of Birth: 5th August 1993 Member Association: Tahiti Residence: Papeete Family: brothers Alizé (married to Aurore) and Vincent; father Didier, mother Corinne, stepmother Maruia. Qualifications (table tennis): Le Diplôme d'Etat de la Jeunesse, de l'Éducation Populaire et du Sport (DEJEPS). Racket Blade: Donic Persson ST Forehand Rubber: Joola Ryzhm Backhand Rubber: Joola Ryzhm First played table tennis: eight years old at school Greatest influence: My family, my girlfriend Johanna Ammar and my old coach Vetea Mollon 2023 ITTF World Championships Finals >> Wang Chuqin v Océan Belrose

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Same Sport but Different Challenge


eter Karlsson in his playing days welcomed the challenge of competition; now, he relishes the task of being mentor and advisor. The Liebherr 2006 World Team Championships in Bremen marked the end of an international playing career; he did not stop totally and continued to represent Levallois in the French League until 2009, a club he first represented in 1995. “I was not involved at the time, but Mikael Andersson was doing a great job in his role at the ITTF, he was thinking ahead, the World Junior Circuit started, it brought tournaments to such parts of the world as India and Latin America”, explained Peter Karlsson. “Also, Glenn Tepper organised funding from Olympic Solidarity; that enabled coaching courses to be held in different parts of the world, small nations benefitted, Puerto Rico is a prime example.” Inaugurated in 2002, the ITTF World Junior Circuit grew quickly; in March 2005 Peter Karlsson became the "Official Spokesperson / Mentor for Young Developing Players" within the ITTF Global Junior Programme, the role involving attending selected ITTF World Junior Circuit training camps and tournaments. Additionally, he

Vivek Kohli is the co-chair of Stag International with whom Peter Karlsson signed an agreement in 2007.

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received promising young players in Sweden as part of the “With the Future in Mind” project. Combining playing with coaching, accompanied by Jarek Kolodziejczyk, his first ITTF coaching venture was in 2005 in Fiji; it was an experience that motivated Peter Karlsson. Well received in Fiji, later in the same year, there was the same response in El Salvador when, alongside Emanuel Christiansson, a training camp attracted over 100 players prior to the World Junior Circuit tournament, the first ever to be staged in Central America. "It was an absolute pleasure to go to the ITTF World Junior Circuit Training Camps; everywhere you went you were made most welcome, you met new people, you saw the sport from a different perspective”, said Peter Karlsson following his El Salvador experience. “I've been to new countries, I’ve played in such places as China, Japan and Korea Republic, countries that host the big events, I loved the environment but now I have travelled to parts of the world I've not visited before, non-table tennis countries; after 15 to 20 years in highly competitive environment, it’s been something very different.” u

High level international player to highly respected coach, a very different approach is needed, one which Sweden’s Peter Karlsson, gold medallist on more than one occasion at both World Championships and European Championships, has discovered.


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Also, in June 2007 Peter Karlsson signed a contract with the Indian manufacturer Stag to become their “Brand Ambassador”, the arrangement continues to the present day. “It’s proved a good agreement”, stressed Peter Karlsson. “They are good partners, I’m very thankful to them.” It was another move that opened his eyes, meeting people was now on the agenda when attending tournaments and similar. "As a professional player you are totally focused on the matches, you practise for hours, you prepare for your match, you play, you leave the arena, and you go back to the hotel to rest." Very quickly, Peter Karlsson responded to the coaching role and proved a popular figure, delighted to be able to make a positive impact on the lives of those under his charge. “You have a lot of knowledge as a player but as a coach you must have other attributes, patience, understanding, establish respect and know how to transmit the knowledge you have gained over the years”, stressed Peter Karlsson. “You are there for 32 SWAYTHLING October 2023

someone else, no ego, you must be humble; your name can be a burden, you must understand the impact you can have because you have been a top player; players who attend the sessions must be realistic and not expect too much.” Quite simply, because the coach has won World titles, it does not mean that some magic will be miraculously passed to create unmitigated success. Moreover, as in all aspects of education, family influence is immense. “Young players do not choose their parents; parents mustn’t rush the child to gain results, not go to extremes”, stressed Peter Karlsson. “Parents have every right to be proud of their child, but they must not live through their children; the child must have another life otherwise when they underperform, gradually they will disappear from the scene.” Matters need to be kept in perspective; it can be concerning when you look at the names of those who won titles in cadet events at the European Youth Championships and do not progress to high senior level, the number is alarmingly high. “Success when young, expectations can be too great, a player must have

the passion, the motivation; not only the joy to play but also the joy to compete; especially for young players, focus on the enjoyment of playing, not just winning, results are the consequence”, added Peter Karlsson. “Just consider Jan-Ove Waldner, he just loved the environment, he had a great desire to compete; look at tennis, consider Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, they have loads of money, they continue to play because they have the passion, they relish in the joy of competing.” Equally if you have the passion to compete; then the chances of overcoming defeats and disappointments, endemic in sport, are that much greater. Peter Karlsson is a prime example, as a young player he did not enjoy a glamorous career. In 1986 he was a member of the Swedish squad at the European Youth Championships in Louvain-la-Neuve that won the boys' team title. In the final he was not selected, he sat on the bench! Fast forward to 2000 in Bremen, Peter Karlsson won the men’s singles title at the European Championships. "You must have a passion for the sport you choose ", explained Peter Karlsson. "It took me twenty years!"

It is that passion he now transmits to those under his charge and like any coach, is delighted when players gain success. “I spent three to four years with the Brazilian team; I knew Jean-René Mounié, he was my coach when I played at Levallois, we met in 2011 at a training camp in Korea, he was there with Hugo Calderano”, reminisced Peter Karlsson. “I joined him in helping Brazil, an adviser, it was a very interesting role, there was a good atmosphere.” Notably, Hugo Calderano now features high on the ITTF Table Tennis Men’s Ranking. “Also, in 2011 at the World Junior Championships in Bahrain, India beat Korea Republic in the boys’ team quarter-finals,” reflected Peter Karlsson. “In 2007 we started a training centre in Falkenberg and had a big group of players who had received funding, Soumyajit Ghosh and Harmeet Desai from India came as did Thailand’s Padasak Tanviriyavechakul and Paraguay’s Marcelo Aguirre alongside Puerto Rico’s Brian Afanador and Daniel Gonzalez. The aim was for them was to become Olympians; most played in either London, Rio or Tokyo; it was very interesting; they fulfilled their dreams.” Aims realised, now for Peter Karlsson, since March 2017, the goal has been to do somewhat the same for Qatar. “We have to apply the same thinking, the process is important, we need to create a structure; we need to establish milestones, so we

have a clear vision”, said Peter Karlsson. “Where are we today? Why are we here? Where do we see ourselves in five years and ten years? We have three milestones: Arab Championships, Gulf Championships, West Asia Championships.” Basically, the task is to design of an overall plan that enables Qatari players to move forward step by step. “It’s necessary to look at techniques, tactics and mental strengths; look closely at the competitive landscape in our own area and consider the culture, culture has a big impact on players”, continued Peter Karlsson. “Qatar is a new country, ultra-modern, conservative; the conservative thinking has an impact, this must be considered when making a plan.” Just as players must adapt depending on the style of the opponent; it is the same for the coach, the mentor must adjust to the needs and demands of the situation. “I am getting a lot of energy from the people, the potential is big, but it will take time”, added Peter Karlsson. “It’s different to Sweden, we need to start the development from the beginning, eating, sleeping properly, being well prepared; it is a new environment, we need to extract energy from the environment.” Professional, leave no stone unturned, the chances of success are increased; it was the policy of Peter Karlsson as a player, it is the same now as a coach.

LEFT TO RIGHT El Salvador in 2005 over 100 players attended the training camp prior to the World Junior Circuit tournament. Eric Jouti and Vitor Ishiy receiving advice from Peter Karlsson during his time in Brazil. Qatar advising Maha Faramarzi and Mohammed Abdulwahhab.

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A Sign of the At the South American Championships 2023, staged in the Peruvian capital city of Lima from Monday 5th to Sunday 11th June, Chile’s Nicolas Burgos retained his men’s singles title; Brazil’s Giulia Takahashi, a semi-finalist one year earlier in Pereira, Colombia, climbed two steps higher. She won women’s singles gold. It is a sign of the times, both players were born this century. SOUTH AMERICAN CHAMPIONSHIPS >> Podium places >> Complete results



Member association: Brazil. Date of birth: 17th December 2005. Hometown: Săo Paulo - Santo André. Club: Săo Caetano Do Sul. Family: Parents Ricardo and Gisele Takahashi, sister Bruna Takahashi. First played table tennis: I started training at a club near my house where my sister started. I remember that I always went to see her train; one day I became interested, I started little by little only on Tuesday and Thursday nights. Later when 12 years old I was called to train at Săo Caetano Do Sul, my current club today.

started to play when I was six years old, my first coach was Monica Doti, who continues to teach classes on Saturdays. She is the wife of Francisco Arado, the current national coach of the Brazilian men's team and my coach at the Săo Caetano do Sul club. Most difficult match at South American Championships: It was against Zeng Ziying, a defensive player from Chile. She plays with a style that is a little more difficult than others for me; in Brazil there are hardly any players who play like that. It was a difficult match for me and I didn’t perform very well. Performance this year compared with last year: I feel that this year I was better, I was playing with a calmer mind, I improved my technique, and I was able to give my best, always I was positive in each game, that's how I managed to win gold.

Racket blade: Cornilleau Talisman off. Forehand rubber: Cornilleau Target Pro XD. Backhand rubber: Nittaku Moristo Sp. Biggest influence on career: My sister Bruna and Mima Ito. I know how hard Bruna has worked to get to where she is now. I like how she plays, always wanting to win and never giving up. Mima Ito inspires me because of her playing style, like me she uses short pimples on the backhand. I take many things from her game for my game. I 34 SWAYTHLING October 2023

Other sports: I did some artistic gymnastics at school when I was eight years old. It was an activity that I really liked but I had to leave due to the time schedule. I decided to give priority to table tennis. Favourite sports team: Brazilian handball team. Favourite sporting personality: Mima Ito. Goals: My big aim is to qualify for the Olympic Games next year in Paris.


NICOLAS BURGOS Member association: Chile. Date of birth: 17th December 2001. Hometown: Santiago de Chile. Club: TTC Bietigheim-Bissingen (Germany). Club (Chile): Nuevo Olimpo. Family: mother, Luisa Valdes (father, Freddy Burgos sadly died in 2021). First played table tennis: Eight years old at my school, at first I didn’t like it, I thought it was a simple game but after meeting people who played better than me I fell in love with the sport.

one match, it would be the final against Brazil’s Guilherme Teodoro; he led three games to one and 3-0 in the fifth. At 3-1 my coach, José Luis Urrutia, called “time out”. There was a change of mentality after our conversation, I pushed hard and came through. Performance this year compared with last year: My game has evolved a great deal. My feeling for the ball is better, it allows me to develop strategies; also, my physical condition is better, a few years ago I had injuries which kept me sidelined. My thanks to my personal trainer, Vicente Hormazabal, for the help, the improvement of my body has given me confidence when it comes to playing more experienced players. I think my mentality has improved; I am more confident now and I think that my confidence continues to grow as I gain good results. Other sports: Tennis, basketball and football.

Racket blade: Zhang Jike Super ZLC, ST. Forehand rubber: Dignics 09c.

Favourite sports team: None really but with my friends I watch Chilean soccer matches, specifically the University of Chile.

Backhand rubber: Dignics 09c. Biggest influence on career: My father, he had confidence in me, always helped, instilling in me all kinds of values and advice. Seeing him support the family enabled me to mature at a young age, I realised there were things beyond table tennis and sport. Most difficult match at South American Championships: All the matches from the quarter-finals but highlighting

Favourite sporting personality: In table tennis Darko Jorgic because of his style of play, his attitude, his training caught my attention. In football Cristiano Ronaldo because of his way of thinking, the ability to improve oneself physically and mentally on and off the field. Goals: to stay in good health and not have any injuries, reaching the top 50 in the world or medals in the Pan American Games are high on the list. October 2023 SWAYTHLING 35

Landmarks 2023 ITTF World Championships Finals Saturday 20th – Sunday 28th May Durban International Convention Centre, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

A total of 306 players from 59 member associations competed.

Fan Zhendong retained his men’s singles title

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At the ITTF World Championships Finals... Broadcasting across 176 territories, a record-breaking 1,495 hours of airtime was achieved, the cumulative reach stood at 1.134 billion, the audience totalled 526 million, an increase of over 42 per cent compared to the 2021 World Championships.

Sun Yingsha became the 32nd player to win the women’s singles event, the 17th from China. She secured the title in the 18th all Chinese women’s singles final, the 15th consecutive such contest since Deng Yaping beat Qiao Hong in 1995.

China provided all four men’s singles medallists for the seventh time, the previous occasions being 1961, 1963, 1983, 1995, 2009, 2013 and 2015. The only other member associations to achieve the feat are Hungary in 1930 and 1934, Japan in 1956.

Sun Yingsha fell just one event short of a full house, but her women’s singles win means she possesses the complete set: women’s team (2022), women’s doubles (2019, 2021), mixed doubles (2021, 2023).

Fan Zhendong completed a successful defence of his men’s singles title; thus, he became the sixth player in the immediately following World Championships to retain the title after winning for the first time. The other players are all Chinese: Zhuang Zedong (1961-1963), Guo Yuehua (1981-1983), Jiang Jialiang (1985-1987), Zhang Jike (2011-2013), Ma Long (2015-2017).

Chen Meng marked ten years since first appearing in a World Championships, the 2013 event concluding on the day the 2023 event started but for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic champion the women’s singles title remains elusive. The only player to win Olympic Games women’s singles gold but never the World title is Chen Jing. A popular name but no player named Chen has ever won the men’s singles or women’s singles title at a World Championships.

Wang Chuqin became only the fifth left hander to emerge as the men’s singles runner up; his predecessors are Laszlo Bellak (1928, 1934), Tage Flisberg (1954), Antun Stipancic (1975) and Cai Zhenhua (1983).

Chen Xingtong won her first ever medal in the individual events; she was the women’s singles bronze medallist.

Liang Jingkun became only the second player to conclude the men’s singles event a bronze medallist for the third consecutive time (2019, 2021, 2023), the only other is Ma Long (2009, 2011, 2013); however, there is a difference, Liang Jingkun always lost to the eventual winner, Ma Long always lost to Wang Hao. Ma Long reached his seventh men’s singles semi-final and thus equalled the record of penultimate round appearances held by Viktor Barna. However, Ma Long’s efforts cover a greater time span. The first time he reached the penultimate round was in Yokohama in 2009. In an era when, when the World Championships were held annually, Viktor Barna achieved the feat between 1930 and 1938. Ma Long received a replica trophy to mark three consecutive times the men’s singles winner.

IN DESCENDING ORDER Ma Long was recognised for being three times the men’s singles winner. Sun Yingsha clinched the women’s singles, she now has the full set. Hina Hayata excelled, she secured a medal in each event.

Hina Hayata became the first Japanese female player for 56 years to own a medal in every event at a World Championships, when she beat Wang Yidi in a titanic women’s singles quarter-final, winning 21-19 in the seventh game. In Durban, as in 2021, it was mixed doubles silver alongside Tomokazu Harimoto. Earlier, in 2017 women’s doubles bronze followed by silver in 2019 and 2021; in both 2018 and 2022 it was women’s team silver. The only Japanese women to hold medals in all events are Yoshiko Tanaka (19541956), Fujie Eguchi (1957-1959), Kimiyo Matsuzaki (1959-1963), Naoko Fukatsu (1963-1967) and Norio Yamanaka (1963-1967). Kimiyo Matsuzaki stands alone, she won gold in all four events. Wang Chuqin and Sun Yingsha retained the mixed doubles title and thus became the first pair to win in consecutive years since Wang Liqin and Guo Yue (2005 and 2007). October 2023 SWAYTHLING 37

Fan Zhendong and Wang Chuqin became the 45th partnership to win the men’s doubles title, the 17th from China.

Omar Assar became the second player from Africa to reach the men’s singles’ quarter-finals, the first was Quadri Aruna in 2021.

Chen Meng and Wang Yidi became the 40th pair to win the women’s doubles, the 16th from China.

Dimitrij Ovtcharov won his first ever medal in the individual events at a World Championships, he secured bronze in partnership with Patrick Franziska.

Korea Republic secured three medals, the first time in 20 years. In 2003, Joo Saehyuk was the men’s singles silver medallist; in the respective men’s and women’s doubles, bronze medals were won by Kim Taeksoo and Oh Sangeun, and by Lee Eunsil and Seok Eunmi. Jang Woojin and Lim Jonghoon remain the only pair from Korea Republic to reach the men’s doubles final, they became only the second partnership to finish in runners up spot on consecutive occasions; the other partnership was 70 years ago, Richard Bergmann and Johnny Leach (1952-1953). Cho Daeseong and Lee Sangsu secured men’s doubles bronze and joined Jang Woojin and Lim Jonghoon on the podium; it is the only occasion when Korea Republic has won two medals in the same event.

OPPOSITE Omar Assar men’s singles quarterfinalist. CLOCKWISE Wang Yidi and Chen Meng, winners. Jeon Jihee and Shin Yubin, women’s doubles runners up. Miyu Nagasaki and Miyuu Kihara emerged bronze medallists. Dimitrij Ovtcharov and Patrick Franziska, semi-finalists. Wang Chuqin two silver and one gold. Jang Woojin and Lim Jonghoon once again runners up. Doo Hoi Kem and Wong Chun Ting, semi-finalists for the third time.

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Jeon Jihee and Shin Yubin became the first pair from the Korea Republic to finish women’s doubles runners up, the only Korea Republic pair to reach the final was Hyun Junghwa and Yang Youngja; they won in 1987. Miyuu Kihara and Miyu Nagasaki who had won in 2019 at the ITTF World Tour Grand Finals, finished play the women’s doubles bronze medallists. Wong Chun Ting and Doo Hoi Kem concluded proceedings mixed doubles bronze medallists for the third time; the previous occasions being 2015 and 2017. Lin Shidong and Kuai Man claimed mixed doubles bronze to secure their first medals.


FOR THE RECORD Men’s Singles Fan Zhendong (CHN) Wang Chuqin (CHN) Liang Jingkun (CHN) Ma Long (CHN)

Women’s Singles Sun Yingsha (CHN) Chen Meng (CHN) Hina Hayata (JPN) Chen Xingtong (CHN)

Men’s Doubles Fan Zhendong/Wang Chuqin (CHN) Jang Woojin/Lim Jonghoon (KOR) Cho Daeseong/Lee Sangsu (KOR) Patrick Franziska/Dimitrij Ovtcharov (GER)

Women’s Doubles Chen Meng/Wang Yidi (CHN) Jeon Jihee/Shin Yubin (KOR) Sun Yingsha/Wang Manyu (CHN) Miyuu Kihara/Miyu Nagasaki (JPN)

Mixed Doubles Wang Chuqin/Sun Yingsha (CHN) Tomokazu Harimoto/Hina Hayata (JPN) Wong Chun Ting/Doo Hoi Kem (HKG) Lin Shidong/Kuai Man (CHN) 2023 World Championships Finals >> Podium places >> Complete results October 2023 SWAYTHLING 39


MEASURES n injury, for a table tennis player, there is nothing worse; anyone who plays table tennis may experience shoulder injuries more often than other injuries.

A by Nicolae Ochiana University of Vasile Alecsandri, Faculty of Health, Sports and Human Movement Sciences, Bacau, Romania

The best possible answer is to avoid such a situation. However, once the player is injured, the likelihood of the problem recurring in the same part of the body increases; this means it is essential to take preventive measures to reduce the possibility.

Scapulohumeral periarthritis Scapulohumeral periarthritis (Fig. 1) is an inflammatory process causing degenerative changes in the shoulder's surrounding areas.

The shoulder joint is a significant body segment in table tennis. At the same time, it is very prone to injuries because of its complex structure and function. Therefore, it is essential to understand anatomy, biomechanics, motor behaviour, and neuromuscular control to shape an appropriate kinesiotherapeutic injury prevention programme. Furthermore, respecting the principle of progression, professionals (and other recreational table tennis players) should consider all the components (strength, power, flexibility, proprioception) necessary to achieve final functional joint stability. Therefore, such an athletic injury should be approached widely, emphasising proximal stability to gain efficient distal mobility.

Fig 1

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Causes and risk factors


Periarthritis affects both men and women, especially active people. It usually starts after middle age, 40 years, with degenerative processes in the tendons of the muscle cuff of the shoulder; in sports performance, it can appear much earlier.

Three stages of development characterise periarthritis:

The pain is constant and monotonous, aggravated by the movements of the upper limbs. Causes of periarthritis are not always visible. However, changes in the shoulder joints tendons, ligaments, muscles, and bones can lead to a painful stiffening. Especially for active people, but not only, periarthritis can also be a disease that will limit mobility and make it challenging to perform natural physical tasks. Among the common causes are post-operative scarring, the presence of diseases that require specific medications, as well as being sedentary. Inflammation of the tissues of the shoulder joints is not limited to active people or performance athletes; it can also occur in the case of those who practise activities with repetitive movements.

Stage 1: the initial freezing stage begins with dull pain and acute inflammation of the shoulder joint and nerve, even in a state of rest. • the pain can worsen during the night. • the initial stage lasts between two and nine months. Stage 2: the freezing stage, which involves the retention of movements in almost all directions, especially during the rotation movement of the arm. • the muscles around the shoulder can decrease in size due to lack of movement. • the phase can last between three and nine months. Stage 3: the thawing or regressive phase, characterised by the superficial decrease in shoulder pain. • pain and stiffness gradually decrease. • mobility begins to increase. • the phase can last between 12 and 24 months. Shoulder joint pains can include:

• performance athletes • dentists • musicians • people who sit at the office for several hours • joiners

• pain during simple movement. • inability to raise the arm above the head. • pain during the night, especially if the position involves sitting on the affected shoulder. • weakness of the shoulder muscles. u

It was found that people who work in specific environments and fields are more exposed to risk, such as:

Fig 2

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Diagnosis of periarthritis A rheumatologist, through a clinical examination, based on the local review, makes the diagnosis of periarhritis. During the consultation, the rheumatologist will ask questions about the present symptoms and examine the shoulder through movements in the scapulohumeral joint to determine its degree of mobility. The movements will be raising the arm above the head, abduction-adduction, and rotation, putting the hand behind the back or the back of the neck. The inability to perform these movements efficiently, as well as the appearance of pain during their execution, indicates an impairment of the shoulder joint. Also, the doctor may recommend a shoulder x-ray (Fig. 2), a detailed ultrasound or an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) scan to ensure no other problems, such as arthritis.

Treatment Scapulohumeral periarthritis involves several types of treatment in different stages of the disease. The patient's patience and co-operation will always be needed as the recovery process is lengthy. Periarthritis is an effect that can be treated by a rheumatologist, it requires the development of a personalised medical recovery programme. The recovery programme and drug treatment will be established according to the rheumatologist's recommendations. Medicinal treatment involves the administration of local and systemic anti-inflammatories and local infiltrations with cortisone.

Medical recovery A long process, treatment during the painful stage involves drugs, including cortisone injections, which aim to shorten the length of the stage and relieve inflammation. Muscle vigour and strength recovery are facilitated by physical exercises, even those performed in the privacy 42 SWAYTHLING October 2023

of the house (simple stretches), and shock wave therapies plus laser therapies or electrotherapy for tissue regeneration. The rheumatologist will design a personalised medical recovery programme for each patient's needs. Among the procedures used to recover, patients with periarthritis are shock wave therapy, laser therapy and electrotherapy. Shockwave therapy (Fig.3) • Helps in the formation of new blood vessels. • Stimulates collagen production. • Dissolves calcifications. • Reduces inflammation in the affected areas. • Restores joint mobility. Laser therapy (Fig.4) • Reduces inflammation and eliminates pain. • Laser lights reduce swelling caused by joint inflammation. • Provides better mobility of joints and regenerates tissues. • Activates the lymphatic drainage system to drain the affected area of the body and reduce inflammation. Electrotherapy (Fig.5) • Prevents and treats muscle atrophy. • Creates a warming effect in the body, which will improve circulation and stimulate healing. • Reduces pain. • Stimulates sensory nerves to relieve pain. It is essential to stress these procedures are neither painful nor invasive. They are recommended whenever needed, as they have no side effects and do not harm the body. However, poor recognition, localisation, and late reporting of pain by table tennis players can often delay access to appropriate and timely intervention to prevent injury chronicity. Therefore, based on understanding the factors involved in overuse injuries and table tennis injuries specifically, the first requirement for effectively managing table tennis injuries is very simple: prevention!


Fig 3

Fig 3

Fig 4

Fig 5

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Diane Schöler 14th April 1933 – 19th June 2023


resident of the Swaythling Club International from 1997 to 2013, suffering from pancreatic cancer, Diane Schöler passed away on Monday 19th June. It is by her maiden name that a place in the annals of sport is reserved; Diane and Rosalind Rowe became the most famous of all twin sisters. They won the women’s doubles title at the 1951 World Championships in Vienna; it was their debut, neither in possession of a World ranking. Against the odds, only 17 years and 320 days old, in the final they beat Romania’s Angelica Rozeanu and Sari Sartz to become the youngest pair ever to secure the title at a World Championships. The record stands to the present day.

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Thousands welcomed them home, the scenes quite unbelievable, astounding.

ships titles that made the duo stars; to really appreciate the impact you to be English and you need to have lived in that era.

Remarkable, even more remarkable ensued at the World Championships in 1954 in London. They regained the title on their 21st birthdays; a feat unequalled in sport and one nigh on impossible to equal.

The nation was recovering from the ravages of World War Two, an intense rebuilding programme, rationing, two attractive young ladies shone like beacons in the dark.

Just as three years earlier incredible scenes, more than 10,000 spectators willed them to victory in the Wembley arena.

They represented a bright new era; everybody knew about the “twins”; table tennis received a major boost, they were headline news, celebrities.

Many achievements followed, national titles, international triumphs, medals abundant at the European Championships, a successful doubles partnership formed with Mary Wright, the list is seemingly endless.

Sadly both are no longer with us, Rosalind died in 2015, like Diane never forgotten; in modern parlance when the subject is sporting twin sisters, they are the “goats” the greatest of all time.

However, it is the World Champion-

The legacy lives on.


TOP ROW 1947 Diane and Rosalind, promising teenagers. 1960s in pensive mood. 1998 thoughtful at the Swaythling Club International Annual General Meeting. SECOND ROW 1950s Diane and Rosalind wearing Middlesex county shirts. 1950 a practice session. THIRD ROW 1980 alongside Ebby with children Cindy and Christian. 1980 with Ebby in front of the trophy cabinet.

>> 1950s combining table tennis and squash

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THE YEAR IS 1954 On Wednesday 14th April, Diane and Rosalind Rowe won the women’s doubles title at the World Championships in London’s Wembley Arena. After recording a semi-final success against Japan’s Fujie Eguchi and Kiko Watanabe (21-7, 21-11, 1821, 21-18), they beat Kathy Best and Ann Haydon to secure the title (19-21, 21-10, 21-19, 22-20). In a period now approaching 100 years, it is the only ever all English final in any event at a World Championships. LEFT The Lady Dowager Swaythling presents the W.J. Pope Trophy to Diane and Rosalind.

RIGHT Diane holds the precious trophy, Rosalind guards the birthday cake. SECOND ROW Wishes of health, wealth and prosperity for Rosalind and Diane. Rosalind and Diane ready for one of many social occasions organised to recognise their success. Diane and Rosalind (far side) face Kathy Best and Ann Haydon in the final.

>> The 1954 World Championships women’s doubles final

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Creating the Atmosphere

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EUROPEAN VETERAN CHAMPIONSHIPS 2023 The European Veteran Championships 2023 staged in Sandefjord, Norway from Monday 26th July to Saturday 1st July, set an example, the fact was underlined that tournaments for more senior players need to be more than just schedules of play, they need to present a complete package. Karl Borre Reite, Event Director, reflects on the European Veteran Championships 2023. It was a challenge to attract participants to the European Veteran Championships 2023. We expected to reach at least 2,000 players. We reached most of the veteran community with our marketing, but in the end, some opted out. Expense was an issue, the cost of travel in Europe had an effect, the high number of tournaments after the pandemic did not help. However, we believed we had a good project and with the weak Norwegian currency, we believed it was the perfect time to visit Norway. The most recent occasion when Norway staged a major table tennis tournament was the World Veteran Championships in Lillehammer in 1996; a long time ago, but we were able to build on the experience gained back then. We were able to give the players excellent playing conditions and provide a friendly atmosphere; everything went smoothly, according to plan. Now we are looking forward to other international events; this would not have been possible, without the large venue we acquired for the European Veteran Championships.


Our "Play for Life" - public health programme was another side of the event that we are very happy about. We took the opportunity to focus on the health benefits from table tennis on neurological diseases through seminars and talks. We will of course build further on this in the future. As a part of the programme, we even LEFT

Joja Wendt came straight from his men’s doubles match to entertain an 800 strong crowd.

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provided both outdoor and indoor tables to schools, parks and hospitals in the region around Sandefjord. It brought table tennis to the people. The "social mixed doubles" was a success! The World Veteran Championships had already introduced mixed doubles as an official event. The European Table Tennis Union wanted us to test it in Norway. We ended up with groups of three pairs, one pair promoted to the knock-out stage; this secured everyone at least two matches. It is a format that is possible to fit into the overall schedule, without breaking the neck of the organisers.

Ever Present A total of 1,296 men and 417 women representing 38 member associations competed in Sandefjord, the numbers heavily in favour of male participants, but if the names of those who have played in all 15 editions of the tournament are considered, there is gender equality, 11 men and 11 women. Men Dimitrije Bilic (Germany) José Antonio Echeverría (Spain) Nigel Eckersley (England) Dietmar Graul (Germany) Jaroslav Kučera (Czech Republic) Gerd Hilgert (Germany) Josip Martinovic (Croatia) Duro Paher (Croatia) Niels Ramberg (Denmark) Leonid Segal (Ukraine) Dieter Widor (Switzerland) Women Sally Bax (England) Marianne Blasberg (Germany) Teresa Devaney (Ireland) Margaret Dignum (England) Carol Eckersley (England) Karin Flemke (Germany) Lena Linde (Sweden) Karin Rauscher (Germany) Audrey Robinson (England) Helen Shields (England) Roswitha Wiencke (Germany) European Veteran Championships >> Podium places >> Complete results 50 SWAYTHLING October 2023


TOP ROW Opening Ceremony in Sandefjord. Howard Brialey and Erik Lobben make their opinions clear. Ingela Lundbäck and Christian David are international umpires who helped with accreditation. SECOND ROW Christian Ibenfeldt in his role as President of the Norway Table Tennis Federation; he was both official and player. Sabine Neldner and Sylvia Messer in total harmony. Presentations involved a touch of tradition. THIRD ROW Julien Pietropaoli and Lucian Filimon secure gold, sheer delight. Officials who contributed immensely to the tournament’s smooth running.

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The finest equipment collection in the world, of that I am very proud.

Aruba Gem 52 SWAYTHLING October 2023



ocated some 18 miles north of the Venezuelan coastline, warm weather all year round, Aruba is an idyllic tourist destination, a jewel in the crown for those of an adventurous nature; especially the intrepid who don diving gear in their quest to witness the marine life of the Caribbean Sea. However, that is not the only gem, the small island is the home for one of the most extensive private collections of table tennis memorabilia; the Casa Rosada Museum is the work of Fabio Marcotulli, a project initiated in 2005. “With time, I realised there was no racket sport in the world with so many varieties and number of different collectible objects; from types of rackets and their coatings to nets, balls and other elements, and that in its evolution it was as varied and exuberant as no other”, explained Fabio Marcotulli. “In this regard, I must thank Chuck Hoey, who at that time was the curator of the museum in Switzerland, with whom I became friends and whom I consider to be the world's leading expert on the subject; his knowledge and experience has helped me achieve the fact my collection is considered ‘The finest equipment collection in the world’, of that I am very proud”. Starting with the Foster Set, the collection comprises artefacts from 1890 to 1972; some 2,400 rackets plus 6,000 items of collectables including porcelain, trophies, medals, silverware, toys, books, postcards, pins, pennants, programmes, posters, photographs, balls and autographs. Originally, the collection was based in the Venezuelan capital city of Caracas; however, in 2014 alongside his wife, Laila Galvez, owing to the country suffering from social problems and unrest, the couple moved to Aruba. Searching for a suitable property, the Casa Rosada, a two-storey house in the centre of Oranjestad, the capital city, proved most appropriate.


Constructed in 1898, well-known throughout the island, a Ministry of Tourism plaque outside the front

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door, the original colour has been maintained although slightly discoloured over the years. An area of 1,200 square metres, the building has been restored to its original form. The museum, measuring 300 square metres, is located on the top floor alongside the living area. Importantly, the museum is accessible from street level via stairs leading from a ground floor of 500 square metres, divided into four rooms, each room with a table tennis table and walls decorated with photos, pennants and other items regarding table tennis history. There is a robot to complete the scene. Born during an aerial bombardment by allied forces on the Italian capital city of Rome on Wednesday 12th January 1944, Fabio Marcotulli is the youngest son of Amedeo Marcotulli and Maria Di Fausto; he has three brothers, Demetrio, Maurizio and Fausto, one sister, Leonetta. He married when he was 20 years old and had three children, Riccardo, Fabio and Claudio. Sadly, Fabio died at a young age resulting from a skydiving accident. A sporting family, father, Amedeo 54 SWAYTHLING October 2023

was one of the founders of Rugby Roma; brother Maurizio, was a national motorcycle and car racing champion in Venezuela in the 1950s and 1960s; sister Leonetta was a legend of Venezuelan motorsports, she was one of first women to compete in car racing, plying her skills under the name of "La Marquesa de La Penne". In Italy, she was a pioneer; she obtained a licence that accredited her to fly a glider. A graduate of the University of Rome, a Doctor of Economics and Commerce, Fabio followed his family’s sporting traditions. Relishing competition; in his youth, he played countless sports: cycling, skiing, spearfishing, clay shooting, soccer, motorcycling, judo and lawn tennis. He won junior and youth cycling competitions in Venezuela and Italy, as well as in the beginner’s category, skiing and motorbike racing titles. In 1948, his father moved the family and his construction company from Rome to Caracas, where Fabio lived from being four to 15 years old, later returning to Rome to continue his studies. During his university period, he was a motorbike racer and test driver for the Italian motorcycle fac-

tory Laverda, obtaining several victories in the 750cc category. In addition, he acted as a stuntman for movies, performing dangerous scenes on motorbikes for Cinecitts Studios, a large film studio in Rome. “In my experience with sports, I have found that the skills you must have to be a good table tennis player are similar to the ones a good motorcycle racer must possess: excellent reflexes, great balance, hand-foot co-ordination, for the racket or the throttle, ability to make decisions quickly”, reflected Fabio Marcotulli. “The big difference is that an error on the motorcycle can cost your life, while you can play table tennis without danger from four years old to more than 90!” Never a dull moment, the competitive relationship with table tennis was born when 16 years old; he won a tournament on a transoceanic cruise; similar success followed resulting in being invited to the Italian Table Tennis Federation’s training centre. He arrived with his precious Barna hard bat; he was in for a big surprise! Everyone played with smooth

ARUBA GEM LEFT TO RIGHT Motorcyclist Riding for Laverda on Sunday 22nd June 1969. Stuntman A risky occupation when compared with table tennis. Chinese Taipei The1972 visit, Fabio Marcotulli is fourth from left.

sandwich type rackets, complicated services, vicious top spins to follow. Undaunted, he bought a Stiga Alser racket and made progress. A more than reasonable standard of play achieved, after finishing his university career in 1971 he moved to Caracas to work in the family construction business. At that time, the level of play in Italy was higher than in Venezuela. He joined the Distrito Federal team; overcoming many of the country’s best players, he was instrumental in the club winning the national championships, a feat they had not achieved for years. The outcome was Fabio became part of the national team; most notably being selected to play against the Chinese Taipei team that visited Venezuela in 1972. However, the career was somewhat short-lived; not in agreement with selection procedures, in 1974, Fabio hung up his Stiga racket. Five years later when 35 years old, he turned his attention to tennis, employing his table tennis skills, he enjoyed success. “It seemed to him that tennis was

much simpler, easier and more primitive, table tennis was much more difficult and attractive, a much greater variety of shots, types of rackets, number of racket coverings and playing styles”, explained Laila Galvez. “Serves and smashes in tennis had very little spin and were very easy to anticipate; it seemed to him that the ball came in slow motion, so he reached it very easily.” Thoughts of table tennis were somewhat distant, that was until 2004 when 60 years old. The Caracas Mayor's Office organised an “Interclub Sports Olympics”, one of the disciplines being table tennis. At the time, Fabio was a member of Club Hipico Caracas, it was where he had started horse riding and lawn tennis, they had no table tennis players. They signed him up without telling him! Circumstances were different to the 1970s but Fabio adjusted. The competition was held for two consecutive years; in the inaugural event he won men’s singles silver, men’s doubles bronze, the following year gold in both events. Most importantly his yearning to play table tennis had returned.

"I'm not playing that bad", he thought; he bought a new Stiga racket, built an excellent table tennis room in the garden of his house and began to practise. Eager to test his skills, he entered the 2006 United States Open competing in the 60-65 years category; it was a disaster; he did not have the skills and reflexes as when 20 years old. He returned to Caracas, changed the racket coverings, put a smooth 1.2 mm rubber on the forehand and a long pimples OX on the backhand; there was immediate improvement. The following year, once again, he competed in the United States Open, this time gaining success; notably he won gold in the International Veteran Senior Master event. Now 79 years old, Fabio still plays in local tournaments, mostly in the veteran category (50 years plus), notably in mixed doubles with his wife Laila. Although there have been times away from table tennis, that situation is never to be repeated, of that fact you can be sure; moreover, there is more to come, much more! October 2023 SWAYTHLING 55

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ARUBA GEM OPPOSITE Barna Parker Brothers Racket. Oldest Barna racket. Ball Retrievers. BELOW Fabio Marcotulli standing next to the Forster Set. RIGHT Rackets of different shapes and sizes. PRIZED POSSESSIONS Coveted items include: Foster's lawn tennis 1890: it is one of only two copies known to exist; the oldest version of tennis to be played on a table, the set possesses the oldest surviving rackets and balls. Very rare Gossima or Ping Pong sets Very rare collection of early Ball Retrievers (c.1900) Unique Set Flux-Flux, with double strung rackets. Early boxed sets (1890-1905): 164 Boxed sets (circa 1920-1960): 80 Early trophies (1900-1930): 65 Ball retrievers (1900-1905): 36 Table tennis variant playing games: 12 in total. Table tennis books (1900-1920): 36 Vintage ball makers: 52 MAJOR RACKETS The oldest Barna (unique) and Barna Parker Brothers (only two known) Strung (excluding those in boxed sets): 76 Vellum and parchment (not boxed): 155 Double purpose (Vellum-Strung): 7 Pyrography (c.1900): 58 Early sandpaper cork wood: 120 Hardbats (1900-1930): 215 Barna and Dunlop: 122 Biggest Heiloway Collection: 64 rackets Imperial: 48 Cor du Buy: 22 Alpha: 25 Thick sponge (different models): 76 Stigma Stiga (before 1972) 176 Butterfly (before 1972): 132

October 2023 SWAYTHLING 57

Places in 2024 at the Paris Olympic Games and Paralympic Games, as well as the ITTF World Team Championships Finals at stake, for the elite that was the goal; as in any tournament national or international, for others present in September at the ITTF Africa Championships in Tunis and the ITTF African Para Championships in Giza, the aims were somewhat different. lä~äÉâ~å=lâìë~åI=jÉÇá~=lÑÑáÅÉê=Ñçê=íÜÉ=^ÑêáÅ~å=q~ÄäÉ=qÉååáë=cÉÇÉê~íáçå=êÉéçêíëK


achievers He explained his reasons for hosting the event. “Tunisia has gained so much, and at different levels, through hosting several tournaments in the last three years. Among the direct benefits are opportunities offered to Tunisian players, it has been possible for them to compete with many players that are very highly ranked internationally. We can see the impact of such competitions on the technical level of our international players and therefore better results at the last African and Arab Championships. We now have more sponsors willing to be partners of our Federation due to the interesting and high visibility offered them locally and internationally. Also, the wonderful experience in hosting important international events has brought respect and recognition internally and at international level to the Federation. Hosting many important table tennis events in our country has had an 58 SWAYTHLING October 2023

amazing impact on the fortunes of our favourite sport in Tunisia and all the regions. Table tennis is becoming more and more popular; this is clearly witnessed by the creation of many new table tennis clubs and the increase in the number of active players in most clubs.” ZIMBABWE MOTIVATED The withdrawal of Angola and Botswana from the ITTF African Championships in Tunis opened the door for Zimbabwe. Led by Tinashe Duri, Secretary-General of the Zimbabwe Table Tennis Union, they fielded a men’s team comprising Brian Chamboko, Tinotenda Fambira and Tatenda Mumvuma, the mission to learn. Support from friends within table tennis and outside made the journey possible. Now the aim is to gain government support. Tinashe Duri, who also fulfills the role of coach, was most realistic. “We saw this as a rare opportunity for us to come and learn from experienced teams like Egypt, Nigeria and Tunisia. We realise that our level is still low but with what we have seen here, we are going back home to work harder. We need equipment that will complement what we are trying to achieve in schools. Good coaching is



taged from Monday 11th to Sunday 17th September, the man whose forward thinking brought the ITTF Africa Championships to Tunis was Lotfi Guerfel, President of the Tunisian Table Tennis Federation.

BELOW Zimbabwe had no hesitation in seizing an opportunity.

There is doubt that our coming to Tunisia provided a chance for us to learn and pick up new skills in the game. We appreciated being able to come; we do not take it for granted.” Brian Chamboko was the most experienced member of the team, he has taken part in two All Africa Games in 2007 and 2011 as well as the 2012 World Championships in Dortmund, Germany. He was of no doubt that coming to Tunis was a chance for the entire team to assess their level as an emerging table tennis nation. Meanwhile, Tatenda Mumuma, who is studying for a Master’s degree in Biotech and Genomics at the University of Zimbabwe, was delighted to be able to rub shoulders with the likes of Quadri Aruna and Omar Assar; a situation that applied also to Timotenda Fambira, an undergraduate of Bulawayo Polytechnic. “I am happy to be here, I have realised that table tennis has improved tremendously in Africa. We hope to have more opportunities to compete in these kind of continental tournaments, I am very happy to have taken part in this competition. I have seen a lot from other players which I hope to apply to my game when I return home.” YOUNG UMPIRES Both in their 20s, Jawher Ramoul and Chadha Azzebi are avid table tennis players but have a different priority, both have become qualified umpires. They were on duty in Tunis. Jawher Ramoul, an undergraduate at the Higher Institute of Sport and Physical Education of Ksar Said in Tunis, was delighted to be officiating at his first continental championships. “I love table tennis and I have been part of the sport for years. I decided to embrace umpiring because of my passion. I am very excited to officiate at my first African Championships, having been part of the WTT events in Tunisia in the last two years. After I became an international umpire in 2022, I have been ai-


TOP Lotfi Guerfel & Kamal Dakich at the opening ceremony for the ITTF Africa Championships. Kamal Dakich is the Tunisian Minister of Youth and Sport.

AFRICAN ACHIEVERS required as well because at senior level, we have over 54 registered players, apart from numerous players at grassroots level. We are hoping that the efforts in schools will unearth new players who will bring glory to Zimbabwe through the sport.

October 2023 SWAYTHLING 59

ming higher and working to improve by attending training as a national competition manager.”

Notably, Chadha Azzawi officiated the final of the men’s team match at the 2023 Arab Games in Algiers.

Chadha Azzawi, a Master’s student of the Higher Institute of Technological Studies, took an interest in umpiring through her father.

“I was a bit nervous in that match because it was a tense one where both teams were really up against each other. It remains my toughest match since I started officiating and I am happy I was able to handle it well. This tournament was a learning curve for me as well.”

“I started playing table tennis early in life but after watching my father umpiring, I fell in love with officiating. My father encouraged me a lot, but it was my decision to take up umpiring. After bagging my international certification, the next stage for me is to get my blue badge which is what I am working on now. I love the composure on the table coupled with the outfit of the umpire. I look up to umpires like Najeh Ghajem and Akram Ben Attia who have made Tunisia proud through their umpiring across the globe. I have handled matches at WTT tournaments, the Arab Games and the African Youth Championships. My experience at the ITTF African Championships was awesome, especially handling matches involving some of the best players in Africa.” 60 SWAYTHLING October 2023

GHANAIAN TEENAGERS Joanita Barteye and Blessing Labanti, respective national cadet and junior champions made their debuts at the Africa Championships. A student at Tema Senior High School, Joanita Barteye, who started playing table tennis in 2021, is Ghana’s under 12 and under 15 years national champion. “When I was listed among the players that would come to Tunisia for the African Championships, I was excited and did not fully grasp what it meant until I boarded the Turkish Airline flight from Accra to Tunis via Istanbul. It was like a dream when I boarded the plane. I could not close my eyes during the long hours of the flight. It was when I got to Tunis that

I realised it was a reality. So, I cherished every moment I spent in Tunis, particularly that moment when I saw Hana Goda of Egypt, a player I had been admiring from afar. I think I still have a long way to go in many areas of my game. I need to work harder and hope that we can get more exposure to compete with our counterparts from the continent.” Unlike Joanita Barteye, Blessing Labanti competed at the 2022 African Club Championships in Lagos. Nigeria. “This was a gathering of the best in Africa. The quality of players in Tunis was top-notch. I love Dina Meshref because of her style of play coupled with her positioning on the table. I was happy to see her in Tunis and I hope we will have more opportunities to play against such players.” DECISION ALGERIA Milhane Jellouli of Moroccan and Algerian descent, who grew up in France, is eligible to represent any of those three countries. After consultations, he decided to pitch his tent with Algeria. He made his first international appearance at the ITTF 2023

AFRICAN ACHIEVERS LEFT TO RIGHT Chadwa Garci encouraged by her father. Jawher Ramoul aiming high. Milhane Jellouli chose Algeria. Ronald Mugwanya selected to umpire at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. Najeh Ghachem will officiate in Paris at the 2024 Paralympic Games. Jemimah Nakawala grateful for school support. Judith Nangonzi competed at the

2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

“I thought it was going to be easy for me at the African Youth Championships, but I was surprised to see quality players from Egypt, Tunisia and Nigeria; this really gave me an idea of what to expect at senior level. My thinking before the Tunis tournament was that I will have an easy ride but I was really dazed with what I saw. My target is to play in the Olympic Games which I think is possible now, I will see what happens because what I saw in Tunis has shown that I will need to redouble my efforts. Also, I was impressed with the organisation of the tournament by Tunisia. They have delivered a world-class event. Quadri Aruna is a player I look up to in Africa because he is a fighter. He never gives up; his forehand is superb. He inspires me to aim high. Aruna is world class; I want to make it up there like him.”

UMPIRES SELECTED Five African umpires have been confirmed for the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Gold badge umpires, Tunisia’s Akram Ben Attia and Uganda’s Ronald Mugwanya, will be joined by Egypt’s El-Sayed ElRawdy at the Olympic Games. Egypt’s Said Abbas and Tunisia’s Najeh Ghachem will be present at the Paralympic Games. Understandably, Najeh Ghachem, a certified Blue Badge umpire, was delighted. “This is a lifetime experience for any umpire; this alone motivates me to work harder and inspire more young people to take up umpiring. I cannot express my feelings because this is the peak for me and I hope I will make myself, Tunisia and Africa proud in Paris.” Algeria’s Abdallah Boudjehem, who officiated at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games and Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, and was the referee in Tunis, recalled his Olympic experience. “I think anybody who finds himself selected for the Olympic or Paralympic Games should appreciate it be-

cause not everyone can officiate there. It is an experience one cherishes throughout your life.” INSPIRED UGANDANS Jemimah Nakawala and Judith Nangonzi are 2023 East Africa School Games champions, they represented Uganda at the ITTF African Championship. The top female players in their country, they are classmates at Kibuli Secondary School in Kampala. They play for Nakesero Table Tennis Club owned by Ugandan Olympian, Mary Musoke. Judith Nangonzi, 15 years old, was highly motivated by a family member. “The medals won by my sister attracted me to the sport. I also discovered that it was fun playing table tennis. Since 2019 when I started the sport, I have won several medals for my school. Our school is the East Africa School champions after winning gold at the recently in Tanzania. Apart from the laurels which attracted me to the sport, through table tennis I have been able to travel to seven countries across the


African Youth Championships in Morocco, in the under 19 age group, he was a member of the gold medal winning Algerian boys’ team, in addition to being a boys’ singles bronze medallist.

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world, including the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

tember, the country was hit by a 6.8 earthquake.

of the Rwanda Table Tennis Federation, was delighted.

We have been able to balance our studies with table tennis and we thank our school and our coach, Mary Musoke, for helping us in this regard. We hope to continue to balance table tennis and our studies.”

Thoughts were of home as Malak Ghounim explained:

“This is the first time that Rwanda will host a continental table tennis event. Even more notable is the significance of the tournament given that it’s an Olympic qualifier. It means a lot for the Federation and the country; we get to watch the best players on the continent and our team gets to participate and gets a chance for qualification. It also means that it creates a precedent for Rwanda to host other big table tennis tournaments and one could even dream of hosting the World Championships one day.

Inspired by a sister, for 13-year-old Jemimah Nakawala, a different source of motivation. “I look up to players like Hana Goda and I want to become a champion like her; this Tunis tournament helped me to learn more from the top players. The support from the management of our school that allows us to train for an hour after school has really helped to sharpen our skills in the sport. MOROCCAN RESPECT Members of the bronze medal winning Moroccan under 15 girls’ team at the 2023 ITTF Africa Youth Championships, Malak Ghounim and Aya Rifau, both 14 years old, had a very special goal at the ITTF African Championships. Sadly, as they prepared to leave Morocco for Tunis, on Friday 8th Sep62 SWAYTHLING October 2023

“When we were leaving for Tunisia, our coach gave black arm bands to wear during our matches. He also told us to play for the victims in order to give them courage and hope to live again. We were in Tunis to represent them, and we hope with our participation, we gave them hope to live again.” The views were echoed by Aya Rifau, a pupil at College Anatole France in Casablanca. “I am pleased with the support the world has given Morocco. We are happy seeing this across the globe; we came to take away experience and play against top players to help our game at home.” DESTINATION RWANDA The African Table Tennis Federation has awarded the hosting rights of the 2024 Olympic singles qualifiers and the Africa Cup to Rwanda. Naturally, John Birungi, the President

We will get assistance from the ATTF to organise a good event and we will get support in the form of professional tournament equipment, tools, and guidelines. What we have seen in Tunis has been an outstanding display with live streaming of matches and real-time live scoring in and around the playing arena. We expect no less in Kigali, this is in addition to the magnificent facilities we already have in Rwanda.” ETHIOPIA AWAITS The 2024 ITTF African Championships will be staged in Ethiopia; Maru Tes-

AFRICAN ACHIEVERS LEFT TO RIGHT Malak Ghounim playing for earthquake victims. Aya Rifau pleased the world is supporting Morocco. John Birungi & Khaled El-Salhy ready to create a precedent for Rwanda. Maru Tesfaye, Khaled El-Salhy & Tasissa Sisay aiming to match Tunisian efforts. Aden Tesfaye made his first international appearance in 1987.

“African Senior Table Tennis Championship is the biggest event of our continent. We are very happy that we are given the chance to host it after 24 years since we last hosted the tournament in 2000. We will try our best to make the best championship in all aspects right from the airport to the hotels and venues. Khaled El-Salhy, President of the African Table Tennis Federation expressed his confidence in Ethiopia to stage the prestigious event. “I am happy for Ethiopia, and we believe they can match Tunisia in terms of organisation and infrastructure. We at ATTF will be ready and willing to give them the necessary support to stage a befitting tournament. We look forward to an exciting tournament; we will assist with their preparations for the Championships.” MY LIFE Representing Ethiopia, 48-year-old Aden Tesfaye was one of the most senior players on duty at the ITTF Africa Championships.

“Table tennis has been my life. I made my first international appearance in 1987 at the All-Africa Games in Kenya as a junior player. The journey has been very rewarding. I got employed by the Ethiopia Electric Power in 1990 as a player and up till now I work in the purchasing department of the state-owned power company in Addis Ababa Apart from playing table tennis, I run, I ride bicycles and also do weightlifting. All these have helped in being healthy and getting stronger. The silver medal we won in the men’s team event during the 2000 continental championships held in Addis Ababa remains memorable for me. I hope that we can win medals again like that, but I must tell you that every country in Africa is getting stronger. I may quit the national team next year in order to help groom young players for the country. It will be painful when I finally quit but I will remain grateful to God for the opportunity given to me to use table tennis to improve my life. We’ll continue to raise the profile of

the sport in Ethiopia and hope that we can also compete favourably with countries like Nigeria, Egypt and Tunisia. Over the years, Segun Toriola is a player I cherish because of his distinct style of play in terms of his footwork. He was a good role model for most of us and he remains one for me.” KENYA RETURNS Present at the ITTF Africa Para Championships, it was a return to action for Kenya; leading the outfit was Rose Chesang; she competed at the Commonwealth Games in 2006 at Melbourne and in 2010 at Delhi. “I am so happy that we were able to compete in this tournament because some of us, who had featured at the Commonwealth Games have not taken part in the African Championships; this goes to show that Kenya has joined the league of Para table tennis active playing nations. You could see the excitement in the faces of the team even though they played against experienced players.” Anthony Ojwang, 27 years old, a member of the Kenyan team in Giza and a graduate of Jomo Kenyatta


faye, President of the Ethiopia Table Tennis Federation is confident that everyone will enjoy local hospitality.

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University of Agriculture, was delighted to make the trip to Giza. “I am very happy that I was selected to represent my country because table tennis is my passion. I cannot but be grateful to our government for deeming it fit to support us for the trip. This is my first time playing in an international tournament; I have learnt from the top players so that when I return home, I can practise what I have learnt.” It was a similar reaction from colleague 26-year-old Newton Gatobu, an undergraduate of Merv National Polytechnic. “We need to work harder. Most of the players in the competition played with various tactics which we are lacking. Also I noticed their comportment during matches. All these are things I have learnt. Apart from giving us a chance to attend competitions, we need equipment to help sharpen our skills in the sport.” TRAINING CAMP Located in Giza, a total of 21 players from Mauritius, South Africa, Cameroon and the Ivory Coast attended a training camp in the Hassan Moustafa Sports Hall from Friday 15th to Tuesday 19th September prior to the ITTF African Para Championships. Hosted by the Egyptian Table Tennis Federation, an ITTF Development project, the course was led by Alessandro Arcigli, President of the European Table Tennis Union Paralympic Committee and coach of the Italian Para Team. He was assisted by Cameroon’s Clement Yong alongside the host nation’s Nasr Tweky and Sayed Moussa. Alessandro Arcigli explained: “Many athletes have entered the world of table tennis in the last few years, solutions must be found to ensure that the number of those who choose our sport increases in quantity and quality. The camp reflected the International Table Tennis Federation’s commitment to fostering long-term growth worldwide. Its objective is to establish an enduring legacy marked by an improved table tennis infrastructure, expanded Para players opportunities, and a 64 SWAYTHLING October 2023

TOP Kenya returned to the international scene. BOTTOM Alessandro Arcigli conducts the training camp. Tankiso Hata now able to do much more in life thanks to table tennis.

strengthened network of empowered coaches. The primary focus was on harnessing the potential of Africa’s dynamic players through intensive training sessions, personalised guidance, and exposure to world-class playing styles. Participants received a transformative journey and they really appreciated the advice of the coaches who gave them many useful ideas to introduce variations in their play. The environment was wonderful, I was truly impressed by the commitment made by the players. I found them all very motivated and happy. The camp in Giza for the players was a great opportunity to meet many players from different countries and to train in a different way than usual; this not only displayed their commitment to table tennis but also reinforces Africa’s position as a new hub for Para table tennis.” South Africa’s Tankiso Hata a member of the group was excited to bepart of the camp. “The dedication and coaching skills truly made a significant impact on all of us. One of the things that stood out the most during the camp was the incredible attention to small details. A keen eye and the ability to notice even the tiniest nuances in our technique made a world of difference. It is the little adjustment that was suggested that has already begun to pay off. I can see a noticeable improvement in my play.” Similarly, his compatriot Nasr Esau, the South African under 19 champion was of the same view. “I am happy I made it to the camp because it has been productive but very hectic, strenuous and exciting. We were drilled very well by the coaches.” SOUTH AFRICAN ENGINEER Tankiso Hata, 37 years old, is a certified civil engineer from South Africa who manages his own firm; competing in men’s singles class 5 at the ITTF African Para Championships it was third place in his group and thus no progress to the main draw.

AFRICAN ACHIEVERS The involvement with table tennis started in 2003 when a student at Martie Du Plessis High School in Bloemfontein. “Actually, I played chess but when I started playing table tennis, I discovered that it was a better mind game than others, so I embraced it totally. For years, I was a champion in South Africa and through the sport, I discovered myself and I realised I could do much more in life; when I started it was not easy but along the line, it became part of me. Virtues like respect for others, discipline and an organised lifestyle are some of things table tennis has given me. Through sport, I was able to discover that I could do many more things in life, these motivated me to aim high in life.” Hata left the sport to further his studies between 2017 and 2018. However, he returned to the game after completing his studies. In Egypt, he returned to international tournaments after years of absence. In table tennis I have been able to find purpose in my life that has improved my confidence level. It has made me see possibility in impossibility. Table tennis has given me a lot which I did not even imagine when I started. The sport is evolving and the standard is getting higher every day. What we need to do in our country is to ensure that we attend competitions to be able to compete with others.” Despite not gaining a ticket to the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games, Hata took solace in the fact that future opportunities are there for him to take in order to be part of the biggest sporting event in the world. “I cannot complain because I need to work harder to get there as it is not a tea party for anyone to qualify. You have to compete with others to be sure you are the best in your class. I am happy with the standard in Africa and it is obvious that Nigeria has gained ground as the powerhouse of Para table tennis. I hope we can learn from them.” October 2023 SWAYTHLING 65


Through Camera the eye of the

Places in both the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games at stake, continental titles decided, players making their mark at World Table Tennis tournaments, the three months, starting in July, proved a period of intense activity. The successes are recorded in pictures.

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Michael Loveder captured the moment at the ITTF European Para Championships, a very determined Martin Perry

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The 2023 ITTF European

Para Championships Monday 4th - Saturday 7th September Sheffield, England Photos: Michael Loveder

The 2023 ITTF African

Para Championships Monday 11th - Sunday 17th September Tunis, Tunisia Photos: Moezz Fellah

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Nine Titles for Poland TOP ROW Karolina Pek won women’s singles class 9, women’s doubles class 20 partnering Natalia Partyka and mixed doubles class 17 alongside Piotr Grudzien. Natalia Partyka prevailed in women’s singles class 10 and, in addition to her success with Karolina Pek, secured the mixed doubles title with Patryk Chojnowski. Patryk Chojnowski added the men’s singles class 10 title and with Piotr Grudzien secured men’s doubles class 18 gold. Piotr Grudzien proved the doubles expert. SECOND ROW Rafal Czuper won men’s singles class 2. Ewa Cychowska & Maciej Makajew emerged the mixed doubles class 22 winners. Dorota Buclaw claimed the women’s singles class 1 top prize.

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Champions TOP ROW Thomas Schmidberger won men’s singles class 3 for the fifth time. Valentin Baus emerged the men’s singles class 5 winner and partnered Thomas Schmidberger to men’s doubles class 8 success. Viktor Didukh secured the men’s singles class 8 title for the fourth time. Maryna Lytovchenko claimed women’s singles class 6 gold, before partnering Viktor Didukh to victory in mixed doubles class 14. Laurens Devos won men’s singles class 9 to make it four in a row. SECOND ROW Florian van Acker enjoyed men’s singles class 11 success for third time. Abdullah Ozturk excelled to make it three career men’s singles class 4 titles. Will Bayley regained his men’s singles class 7 title, previously won in 2011. Borislava Peric-Rankovic collected her seventh European women’s singles title when she won class 4-5. THIRD ROW Aida Dahlen claimed the women’s singles class 8 for the third time. Giada Rossi retained her women’s singles class 2 title. Andela Muzinic-Vincetic secured the women’s singles class 3 title for the first time. Ebru Acer won women’s singles 11 for the first time. FOURTH ROW Kubra Korkut was also a first time winner, she succeeded in women’s singles class 7. Mateo Parenzan won men’s singles class 6 to add to his World title. Endre Major advanced one step further to win men’s singles class 1, in 2019 he had been the runner up. Grace Williams caused the biggest upset; she beat Thu Kamkasomphu, eight times European champion at the semi-final stage of women’s singles class 8.

ITTF 2023 EUROPEAN PARA CHAMPIONSHIPS >> Podium places >> Complete results >> Michael Loveder’s Flickr October 2023 SWAYTHLING 73

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Paris Reservations TOP ROW Khaled Ramadan won men’s singles class 1-3. Isau Ogunkunle proved a somewhat surprise men’s singles class 4 winner; organised on a group basis in his concluding match he beat Sameh Eid, the top seed (11-5, 9-11, 11-3, 6-11, 11-6). Bolawa Akingbemisilu secured the men’s singles class 6 title as anticipated. Sayed Youssef booked his place in what will be his fifth consecutive Paralympic Games. OPPOSITE FIRST COLUMN Victor Farinloye justified his top seeded position to win men’s singles class 8. Abiola Adesope was a surprise men’s singles class 9 winner; he was not seeded. Olga Soliman announced her arrival, no World ranking, she won women’s singles class 1-2. OPPOSITE SECOND COLUMN Alabi Olufemi celebrated victory in traditional style after winning men’s singles class 10. Hagar El-Sayed secured the top prize in women’s singles class 6-8. SECOND ROW Fawzi El-Shamy enjoyed success in a group organised women’s singles class 6-8 event. Ifechukwunde Ikpeoyi maintained good form to win women’s singles class 4-5. SECOND COLUMN Kehinde Lawal struck gold in women’s singles class 9. Faith Obazuaye justified her top seeded position to win women’s singles class 10.

ITTF 2023 AFRICAN PARA CHAMPIONSHIPS >> Podium places >> Complete results October 2023 SWAYTHLING 75

OCEANIA Saturday 2nd - Saturday 9th September

ASIA Sunday 3rd - Sunday 10th September

PA N A M E R I C A Sunday 10th - Sunday 17th September

EUROPE Sunday 10th - Sunday 17th September

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Olympic Games Qualification OPPOSITE Australia won both the men’s team and women’s team events, thus qualifying in both disciplines for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. Nicolas Lum & Minhyung Jee emerged the mixed doubles winners, thus reserving places in Paris.

Oceania Youth & Senior Championships TOP ROW Aditya Sareen won the men’s singles title, at 15 years and 134 days old he became the youngest player ever to achieve the feat in the history of any continental championships! Also, he won the mixed doubles partnering Yangzi Liu and the under 19 boys’ singles. In addition he was a member of Australia’s successful men’s team as well as the under 15 boys’ team. Yangzi Liu retained her women’s singles title won one year earlier in Melbourne; in addition to the mixed doubles success alongside Aditya Sareen she was a member of Australia’s gold medal winning women’s team and under 21 women’s team. SECOND ROW Joanna Yang flew the flag for New Zealand, she won both the under 21 women’s singles and under 19 girls’ singles. Hwan Bae won the under 21 men’s singles and was a member of Australia’s gold medal winning under 21 men’s team and under 19 boys’ team. THIRD ROW Tahiti qualified alongside Australia and New Zealand for both the men’s team and women’s team events at the Busan 2024 World Team Championships.

ITTF OCEANIA OLYMPIC QUALIFICATION >> Podium places >> Complete results ITTF OCEANIA CHAMPIONSHIPS >> Podium places >> Complete results

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Full House for China TOP ROW China secured the men’s team title, the squad comprising Liang Jingkun, Wang Chuqin, Fan Zhendong, Wang Hao (coach), Ma Long and Lin Gaoyuan proved irrepressible. Later Ma Long won the men’s singles, the success coming after Lin Gaoyuan had partnered Wang Yidi to mixed doubles gold and Fan Zhendong to the men’s doubles top prize. China struck women’s team gold in style; Wang Manyu, Sun Yingsha, Chen Meng, Ma Lin (coach), Wang Yidi and Chen Xingtong showed no charity. In addition to the mixed doubles success enjoyed by Wang Yidi, Wang Manyu emerged the women’s singles winner, after having joined forces with Chen Meng to reserve the women’s doubles top prize. SECOND ROW Korea Republic claimed women’s team bronze, later Shin Yubin reached the mixed doubles semi-final partnering Lim Jonghoon and the same stage in the women’s doubles alongside Jeon Jihee. Lim Jonghoon finished proceedings the owner of three bronze medals; in addition to the mixed doubles partnering Shin Yubin, he stood on the third step of the men’s doubles podium with Jang Woojin. Earlier he had proved pivotal to the Korea Republic men’s team semi-final finish. Hina Hayata concluded matters a women’s team bronze medallist, the one further medal for Japan came in the women’s doubles when Miyuu Kihara and Miyu Nagasaki advanced to the women’s doubles semi-finals. Lin Yun-Ju prevented an all-Chinese penultimate round men’s singles lineup. Bronze was the eventual reward, the same outcome as witnessed in the mixed doubles alongside Chen Szu-Yu. Earlier in the men’s team event the colour had been silver. THIRD ROW India gained a most creditable men’s team bronze medal. Lee Ho Ching proved pivotal to Hong Kong’s women’s team silver medal.

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Busan Bookings TOP ROW The United States represented by Sally Moyland, Amy Wang, Rachel Sung and Lily Zhang won the women’s team title. In both men’s and women’s team events, the outfits that reached the semi-finals qualified for the 2024 World Team Championships Finals; to determine which teams qualified for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, the semi-finalists competed in a group event from which two teams qualified. Adriana Diaz & Melanie Diaz won the women’s doubles. OPPOSITE Amy Wang enjoyed further success later in the tournament, she secured the women’s singles title. Hugo Calderano led Brazil to men’s team success before winning the men’s singles. SECOND ROW Paulina Vega & Nicolas Burgos celebrated their mixed doubles triumph. Later Nicolas Burgos won the men’s doubles partnering Gustavo Gomez and reached the men’s singles final losing to Hugo Calderano. Bruna Takahashi came so near yet so far. She was the runner up in the women’s team, women’s singles and mixed doubles partnering Vitor Ishiy. Alongside younger sister Giulia she reached the women’s doubles semi-finals. THIRD ROW Santiago Lorenzo flew the flag for Argentina, he progressed to the men’s singles penultimate round.

PAN AMERICAN CHAMPIONSHIPS 2023 >> Podium places & qualification procedures >> Complete results

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Regained & Retained TOP ROW Sweden won the men’s team title, Jörgen Persson, Jon Persson, Anton Källberg and Kristian Karlsson in full cry. The last time Sweden prevailed was 2002 in Zagreb when the team comprised Peter Karlsson, Jan-Ove Waldner, Fredrik Hĺkansson and Jens Lundqvist. Truls Moregard ecstatic following his win against Benedikt Duda in the opening match of the final. Later he overcame Timo Boll to seal the victory. Kristian Karlsson kept Swedish hopes alive. Against Bence Majoros, in the vital deciding match of the quarter-final contest against Hungary, he recovered from a two games to nil deficit, saved a total of three match points in the crucial fifth game, before securing victory.

>> Kristian Karlsson v Bence Majoros Tiago Apolonia beat Timo Boll in the semi-final contest against Germany but it was to prove Portugal’s only win. Felix Lebrun on his knees after overcoming Darko Jorgic in the opening match of the first round fixture against Slovenia. The man of the match, in the crucial fifth encounter he returned to the table, beating Petr Hribar to secure a 3-2 French win. Shao Jieni accounted for both Christina Källberg and Linda Bergström in the quarter-final contest against Sweden to guide Portugal to a 3-1 win. Germany retained the women’s team title in emphatic manner, not one individual match surrendered. Tamara Boros (coach), Annett Kaufmann, Sabine Winter, Nina Mittelham and Han Ying celebrate. Nina Mittelham beats Andreea Drogoman by the very narrowest of margins to secure the women’s title team title for Germany, silver for Romania. Bernadette Szocs accounted for both Prithika Pavade and Yuan Jinan to guide Romania to a 3-1 penultimate win against France.

EUROPEAN TEAM CHAMPIONSHIPS >> Podium places >> Complete results

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Established Names TOP ROW Quadri Aruna won the men’s singles title for the second time; previously he had succeeded in 2018. In addition he was a member of Nigeria’s silver medal men’s team. Hana Goda won the women’s singles for the first time in her career and thus added a second gold to her collection. She was a member of the successful Egyptian women’s team. Dina Meshref and Omar Assar are destined for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. Success in Tunis meant they qualified as mixed doubles winners and as members of the respective men’s and women’s teams. Owing to injury Omar Assar was forced to withdraw from the men’s singles at the quarter-final stage when due to meet Congo Brazzaville’s Saheed Idowu. SECOND ROW Olufunke Oshonaike & Fatimo Bello emerged the women’s doubles winners. It was the first time either player had won the title. Olajide Omotayo was instrumental in Nigeria’s men’s team silver medal; later he reached the men’s singles semi-final stage and was the mixed doubles runner up alongside Olufunke Oshonaike. Marwa Alhodaby & Sarah Hanffou secured women’s doubles silver; once again Sarah Hanffou flew the flag for Cameroon. Ahmed Ali Saleh proved age is no barrier, the 43-year-old emerged the men’s singles runner up. Commencing in 2000 he had previously won the title three times. Abir Haj Salah & Fadwa Garci supported the Tunisian cause; they secured women’s doubles bronze. Nandeshwaree Jalim & Oumehani Hosenally were the heroines of Mauritius, a semi-final place in the women’s doubles was achieved. Marian Alhodaby reached the women’s singles semi-final, two steps lower than in 2019 when she had secured the title. Earlier, she had been a member of Egypt’s successful women’s team. Antoine Razafinarivo & Fabio Rakotoarimanana shone for Madagascar, they won the men’s doubles. ITTF AFRICA CHAMPIONSHIPS >> Podium places >> Complete results

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July - September 2023 Catching the eye Divyanshi Bhowmick Baldwin Ho Wah Chan Chen Yi Wassim Essid Keishi Hagihara Benjamin Faraji Hana Goda He Zhoujia Leonardo IIzuka Kuai Man Kuo Guan-Hong Kwon Hyuk 88 SWAYTHLING October 2023

Lee Daeun Lim Jonghoon Ma Yeongmin Sally Moyland Shin Yubin Yuna Ojio Qin Yuxuan Sun Yingsha Wen Ruibo Wu Jian-En Yan Yutong Zhou Kai

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Titles TOP ROW Divyanshi Bhowmick (IND) WTT Youth Contender Amman U15GS, U13GS, U15XD (Parth Magar) WTT Youth Contender Almaty U13GS WTT Youth Contender Bangkok U13GS Baldwin Ho Wah Chan (HKG) WTT Youth Contender Almaty U19BS, U19XD (Wong Hoi Tung) WTT Youth Contender Hong Kong U19XD (Wong Hoi Tung) Chen Yi (CHN) WTT Feeder Olomouc WS, WD (Qi Fei) Wassim Essid (TUN) WTT Youth Contender Tunis U17BS, U15XD (Balkis Suissi) MIDDLE ROW Keishi Hagihara (JPN) WTT Youth Star Contender Skopje U19BS, U19BD (Milosz Redzimski) Benjamin Faraji (IRI) WTT Youth Contender Batumi U19BS, U17BS WTT Youth Contender Tunis U15BS WTT Youth Contender Amman U15BS Hana Goda (EGY) WTT Youth Contender Varazdin U19GS, U17GS WTT Youth Contender Otocec U19GS He Zhuojia (CHN) WTT Contender Panagyurishte WS, WD (Han Feier), XD (Zhou Kai) BOTTOM ROW Leonardo Iizuka (BRA) WTT Youth Contender Charleston U19BS, U17BS, U19XD (Giulia Takahashi) Kuai Man (CHN) WTT Contender Almaty WS, WD (Chen Yi) WTT Star Contender Ljubljana WD (Wang Yidi) Kuo Guang-Hong (TPE) WTT Youth Star Contender Skopje U15BD (Tsai Tse-An), U15XD (Chen Min-Hsin) WTT Youth Contender Cheongyang U17BS WTT Youth Contender Vientiane U19BS, U17BS, U19XD (Chen Chi-Shiuan) Kwon Hyuk (KOR) WTT Youth Contender Cheongyang U15BS, U15XD (Yoo Yerin)

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Titles TOP ROW Lee Daeun (KOR) WTT Youth Star Contender Skopje U19GS, U19GD (Yoo Yerin) Lim Jonghoon (KOR) WTT Contender Rio de Janeiro MD (An Jaehyun), XD (Shin Yubin) Ma Yeongmin (KOR) WTT Youth Contender Varazdin U13BS, U11BS WTT Youth Contender Otocec U13BS, U11BS Sally Moyland (USA) WTT Youth Contender Charleston U19GS, U17GS

MIDDLE ROW Shin Yubin (KOR) WTT Contender Lima WS, WD (Jeon Jihee) Yuna Ojio WTT Youth Contender Cheongyang U19GS, U17GS WTT Youth Contender Hong Kong U19GS Qin Yuxuan (CHN) WTT Youth Contender Bangkok U19GS, U17GS Sun Yingsha (CHN) WTT Star Contender Ljubljana WS, XD (Wang Chuqin)

BOTTOM ROW Wen Ruibo (CHN) WTT Youth Contender Bangkok U19BS, U17BS, U19XD (Zhang Xiangyu) Wu Jian-En (TPE) WTT Youth Contender Almaty U17GS, U15GS, U15XD (Tsai Tse-An) WTT Youth Contender Hong Kong U15GS WTT Youth Contender Vientiane U17GS WTT Youth Contender Darwin U17GS Yan Yutong (CHN) WTT Youth Contender Bangkok U15GS, U15XD (Sun Yang) Zhou Kai (CHN) WTT Feeder Olomouc MD (Xue Fei), XD (He Zhoujia (CHN)

WORLD TABLE TENNIS >> Results and reports

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