MAZE Michael and TUGWELL Finn (DEN)
Photo By: Kazuyuki Takahashi
2004 Olympic Games
The Danish men’s doubles combination of the left-handed Michael MAZE 28, and Finn TUGWELL, 28, became the first medal ever Olympic Games table tennis medal winners for their country, when they beat the Russians Dimitrij MAZUNOV and Alexei SMINOV 11-3, 11-8, 12-14, 3-11, 11-9, 11-8, in the playoffs for the bronze medal place today.
They had the advantaged of being a left-right hander combination which makes it a bit easier to attack with the forehand, without getting in each other’s way, and they were slightly faster than the Russians, and better in short play. MAZE also showed great touch and forehand topspin versatility and flair, while TUGWELL, on paper the weakest of the 4 players, demonstrated courage in continuing to go for his shots under pressure, particularly with his strong forehand. The Russians, by contrast, had the greater 2 wing power, and were better back from the table.
Initially the Danish pair looked like winning comfortable but the Russians are also fighters, saving 3 game points from 7-10 (and 2 games) down before taking the 3rd game. This gave them confidence and they ran away with the 4th game 11-3.
The important 5th game saw the Danes regaining control and leading 9-6. Some big loops pulled the Russians back to 9-9, but then the Danes won a big loop the loop rally and Smirnov missed a back-hand loop, and MAZE and TUGWELL were 3-2 up. They also had the better finish from 7-7 in the deciding game to claim their bronze medal, but spare a thought for MAZUNOV and SMIRNOV, who were so near to achieving a first table tennis medal for Russia.
On their success, MAZE (Denmark), said, “We consider our victory as a great success for our homeland, me and my teammate Finn. We are on the right route to enjoy further great moments in future tournaments. We have only to keep up the good hard work.”
SMIRNOV thought they got their tactic wrong. “We had to play completely different because our tactic was wrong from the beginning.”