by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
He beat Syria’s Mohamed Hallak (11-8, 11-4, 11-6, 11-7), a player who simply does not have the opportunities afforded Benedek Olah. He spends much of his time in Hungary representing the BVSC Club.
The important factor was not necessarily the result but the fact that there were no after effects.
On Monday 5th December, Benedek Olah entered hospital; he underwent an operation on his left ankle; he was suffering from Morton’s neuroma, in basic layman’s terms it is a trapped nerve.
“It was three weeks before I could practice; since the operation I have played in the Hungarian National League but this is the first time that I have played internationally”, Benedek Olah
A return to the international scene and it is a return to the international scene for one of the most improved players of the past 12 months.
Just over one year ago in January 2016, Benedek Olah was listed at no.149 on the Men’s World Rankings, noted for his powerful backhand, he rose to no.56 in November; at the end of the year he was at no.64. It was most notable progress, one with which few could compare.
The pinnacle of the year was competing in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, to qualify for the prestigious event was his goal; Denmark’s Jonathan Groth ended his adventures in round two but win or lose, the fact he was playing in the Brazilian city was success in itself.
Later in the year at the Liebherr European Championships in Budapest, he excelled; notably he beat Slovenia’s Bojan Tokic (13-11, 11-9, 6-11, 9-11, 11-7, 12-10) and Poland’s Daniel Gorak (3-11, 11-5, 11-6, 11-9, 8-11, 11-6), before losing to Germany’s Timo Boll at the quarter-final stage (6-11, 8-11, 11-8, 11-3, 11-5, 11-8)
“Two weeks before the Olympic Games I could not walk, I was terrified that I would not be able to play; I had seven pain-killing injections, some did not work. Later I played in the European Championships, the ankle hurt, I beat Bojan Tokic four-two but if I had lost the sixth game I wouldn’t have had a chance”, Benedek Olah.
Perhaps the year did not end on the brightest note; he was in hospital when the Finlandia Open was taking place but should he consider a change of footwear?
“You know one of the reasons why you get Morton’s neuroma? It’s through wearing high heel shoes”, Benedek Olah.
I assure you, in Doha; Benedek Olah had his feet firmly on the floor.