The table tennis events at the London 2012 Olympic Games are coming to a close, Tuesday 7th August is the penultimate day of play in e expansive ExCeL Arena.
Increasingly we are reflecting on the events that have passed since the torch was lit in the Olympic Stadium on Friday 27th July.
Now eyes gradually turn to the next major gathering of the table tennis family, the annual gathering; in the Paris suburb of Bercy, the LIEBHERR World Championships will be staged from Monday 13th to Monday 20th May 2013.
On Monday 6th August in the ExCeL Arena at the London Olympic Games, the formal contract was signed by Adham Sharara, ITTF President, Christophe Palierne, President of the French Table Tennis Federation and Anders Thunström, the Managing Director of TMS International.
Universal Message The universal message from the ExCeL arena is one of high praise for the efforts made in promoting a truly memorable table tennis tournament.
One fact overrides most others, the incredible atmosphere that has been created, day after day, session after session; it has been “house full”. The public whether British or from foreign shores have revelled in the fare on offer, it has been a truly remarkable experience.
China Supreme Perhaps we have not witnessed the massive upset; the superb players from the People’s Republic of China have dominated matters.
The spectators have admired their remarkable skills.
Same in Bercy A fantastic atmosphere but was that not the case a decade ago in the Paris suburb of Bercy at the 2003 LIEBHERR World Championships?
There was a tremendous atmosphere in the stadium and there was one other ingredient, a surprise winner and in the Men’s Singles final not a Chinese superstar in sight.
All Other Finals Chinese Austria’s Werner Schlager beat Korea’s Joo Saehyuk in the Men’s Singles final.
We remember that fact more than any other but let us not forget one other fact; all other finals were contested by Chinese players!
Furthermore, all were won by players who either owned or were to own Olympic gold medals.
The Winners Wang Nan departed with a full house of medals.
She beat Zhang Yining in the Women’s Singles final. Later she partnered her adversary to Women’s Doubles success. The pair accounted for colleagues Guo Yue and Niu Jianfeng in the final.
The win completed the hat-trick of titles for Wang Nan; earlier in proceedings she had joined forces with Ma Lin to win the Mixed Doubles title. The pair beat Liu Guozheng and Bai Yang in the final.
Gold for Olympic Champions Meanwhile, not to be left out Wang Liqin and Yan Sen, the reigning Olympic champions at the time, beat Kong Linghui and Wang Hao in the Men’s Doubles final; the latter making his World Championships debut.
China emerged the dominant force but the tournament will always be remembered for the efforts of Werner Schlager.
Welcome Home In 2012, in London, table tennis came home; in 2013 in Bercy, Werner Schlager will return to the scene of his greatest triumph; he may be Austrian and live in Vienna but Bercy has a special place in his heart.