by Simon Daish
Germany entered the Women’s Team category as the third seeds. The team surpassed their expectations, becoming the first European country to make an Olympic final in the Women’s Team competition by achieving a semi-final victory over Japan before going on to claim silver.
Petrissa Solja, who is only one of three Europeans to have finished in third place at a Women’s World Cup (2015), knew before the Table Tennis at Rio 2016 had even begun that Germany had a good opportunity to go far in the Games,“It was the dream for me to win the medal and I wished it will be in Team Event. We all knew that our chances lay in Team Event because we were seeded at the position number three. The expectations were high. The great obstacle was the fact that for all three of us it was the first time that we played at the Olympic Games,” said Solja. “Already, when we saw the draw we realized we have a great chance to get this medal, but we had to play our best.”
When asked about her favourite memory from Rio 2016, Solja spoke about the one moment that stood out above everything else: Germany booking their spot in the Women’s Team final.
“When we won against Japan. It was the best moment for me. After Yin (Han Ying) finished the last ball it was the moment of great relief. We needed full four hours to conclude that match. We were under enormous of pressure and the level of stress was very high. I think I never was that happy like when we beat Japan.” – Petrissa Solja (Germany).
The 22-year-old also mentioned the great fan support at the Riocentro – Pavilion 3 and the atmosphere at the opening ceremony of the Games, “I was supported by the fans. They cheered all of us, not only players from Brazil. They were very kind and showed respect for the good game.” Solja added, “The most powerful impression was opening ceremony. It was great, everything was fine. I had the chance to see lot of top athletes and it was very interesting for me. Olympics are great experience.”
However, despite the joyous ending to the Olympic Games for Solja, she actually had made a disappointing start to her Olympic debut with a defeat to Ri Myong Sun (DPR Korea) in the third round of the Women’s Singles, “For me, the hardest moment was when I lost my first match in singles against the player from North Korea. When I saw the draw I knew it will be very hard. Even to get to the second round seamed as a mission impossible. . I was aware I had to play over the 100 percent to beat her, but I could not play like that in first match. I lost against her in two previous occasions. She was too strong for me.”
Now that the Olympic Games are over, Solja will enjoy a well deserved break before returning to training ahead of some of the year’s key Table Tennis events, “For next two weeks I am on holiday. I am at Cyprus and after the break we will start the preparation for European championships and Champions league. I will go to the training army camp for eight weeks until December.”
“I also, hope, I will receive the wild card for the World Cup. I was not playing at the ITTF Europe Cup, because I was injured,” added Solja.