It is not easy to transform home advantage into good results at the table. At last weekend’s Final World Qualification Tournament, only one Hungarian player was entirely happy.
For Janos Jakab, twenty-one years of age, cheering from the numerous enthusiastic fans in the Round Hall in Budapest was an advantage. “I was shocked by this result, I did not expect this”, he said about his tenth place finish.
Sometimes Help, Sometimes Pressure Ranked only number 118 in the May ITTF World Ranking, Jakab was rather an underdog than a favourite for one of the Olympic qualification spots. „I’ve ran into difficulties several times but the home crowd always cheered for me“, Jakab said about the tournament retrospectively.
And for sure the spectators can help a lot but it is not always like this. „Sometimes it is pressure; this time I got more from them but it can also be irritating.“
An Exemplary Sportsman Throughout the tournament Jakab displayed a positive spirit. Two seconds after a stupid mistakes, "Jaki" was skipping again full of confidence to make the next point. „I tried to believe, to have faith in myself”, he had discovered his secret.
After the Final World Olympic Qualification Tournament, Jakab knows that his name should belong to the top 100 of the ITTF World Ranking. For nearly three years, he has been between number 100 and 200.
A Better World Ranking and a Life in Harmony “I really gathered self-confidence here; maybe I’ll move up the world ranking because I beat Erlandsen and Korbel.” Jakab forgot to mention Serbia’s Aleksandar Karakasevic, number 49 in the ranking.
The top 100 only seem to be a question of time. Janos Jakab, however, also has dreams beside table tennis. “Physical, mental and spiritual harmony as a human being”, he once wrote for a biography collection to the ITTF. Both are ambitious goals. Most likely he will first reach the top 100.
The Hungarian audience supported Janos Jakab and the other Hungarian players noisily. Photo by Istvan Polonyi