by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Representing the hosts; Roland Natran, the President of the Hungarian Table Tennis Association, alongside and Dr. Miklos Stocker, the Secretary General were both present, as was Judit Farago, the Chief Executive Officer of the International Table Tennis Federation and Ronald Kramer, the President of the European Table Tennis Union.
In addition, Peter Aranyosi, Head Coach of Hungarian Men’s Team attended, as did the defending Women’s Singles champion, Romania’s Elizabeta Samara.
“Since 1958 Hungary has played a major role in table tennis not only with results but also as a great organiser”, said Ronald Kramer. “I hope that our return here, after 34 years, will give a big boost to our sport.”
Budapest staged the European Championships in 1982.
“I am very happy that the Hungarian Association took up the challenge to organize the individual Championships after we had the combined one in the Ekaterinburg last year”, added Ronald Kramer.
Notably it is the second time that the European Championships has included only individual events; the one other occasion was in 2012 in Herning. However, on that occasion the Mixed Doubles event was staged earlier in the year in Buzau, nor on the occasion of the Championships.
All five individual events are on show at the Liebherr 2016 European Championships.
“We had to wait 34 years to organise this big event; we have nine out of the ten best players from the European Rankings in the Men’s Singles and Women’s Singles events”, explained Roland Natran. “Our goal is to present the best possible table tennis in order to attract attention and to entertain our spectators; we want to present the spirit of table tennis in best possible way. “
It is anticipated that over 6,000 spectators may fill the tiered seating in the Tüskecsarnok. The Hungarian Table Tennis Association has offered special packages for clubs, students and senior citizens as well as discounts for rail travellers.
“It is my privilege and great pleasure to welcome you to my home town; I was not born on 1958 to see what happened then but in 1982 I supported our national team”, said Judit Farago; in 1982 Hungary won both the Men’s Team and Women’s Team titles.
“I remember the atmosphere and excitement from that period and great joy that followed the success”, added Judit Farago. “I hope the new spectators this week in the hall will share the same spirit and determination we felt 34 years ago.”
The names of Istvan Jonyer, Gabor Gergely, Tibor Klampar and Zsolt Kriston shone bright in those days as did those of Beatrix Kishazi, Zsuzsa Olah, gabriella Szabo and Edit Urban
Now it is the turn of a new generation.
“In next six days 254 competitors from 44 countries will play here; with 60 umpires on duty”, advised Mikos Stocker. “All of this will not be possible without the great support from the city of Budapest, the Hungarian Government and our pool of suppliers and sponsors.”
The host have prepared well; they are ready and so in Elizabeta Samara who just over one week earlier had been competing in the Women’s World Cup in Philadelphia.
“I am not suffering from jet leg at all”, she said. “I came from the USA recently, now I feel fine and I am ready for the challenge here.”
A challenge awaits and the host nation is rising to the challenge.
“We are ready and so far, on the first day all our women’s team recorded all victories”, said Peter Teglas, the Hungarian Women’s Team National Coach. “We hope it will stay that way.”
The successful players were Dora Madarasz, Mercedes Nagyvaradi and Szandra Pergel.
Liebherr 2016 European Championships: Watch live on Laola 1.TV