by Wade Townsend
The prize is awarded for a lasting contribution that has enriched Swedish sports.
Waldner’s international career spanned three decades, winning Olympic gold in Barcelona in 1992, six World Championship gold medals and completing 212 months unbroken in the Top Ten of the Men’s World Rankings; more than any other player in the history of the sport.
Television host Kristin Kaspersen took to the stage to reveal that Waldner would be the recipient of this year’s Honorary Award.
“I think I can speak for all of us when I say thank you for all the marvellous moments, and thanks for all the entertainment you gave us during your 45 years as a table tennis player.” Kristin Kaspersen
Swedish sports commentator Staffan Lindeborg, highlighted the impact Waldner had on Swedish Olympic sport.
“His Olympic career is outstanding. In Barcelona the people had an urgent desire. In 1988 we won nothing. Nothing.” Staffan Lindeborg
Presenting the award was Jean-Phillipe Gatien, Waldner’s opponent in the finals of the Barcelona Olympics, and fellow national teammate Mikael Appelgren.
“I think you are the best athlete this country has seen.” Mikael Appelgren
Waldner was humbled by the award as he reflected upon his career.
“It is a great honour for me to receive this award. I want to thank my parents for having supported me in both good times and bad, and my brother who meant a lot to me. Without their help I would not have been here today.” Jan-Ove Waldner