by Simon Daish
Vladimir Samsonov, 41, has for many years been competing at the very top of world table tennis and is a winner of 26 Men’s Singles titles on the ITTF World Tour.
Known worldwide for his terrific all-round game Samsonov possesses the ability not only to out-attack the opposition but also to frustrate rival players with his defensive masterclasses, wooing spectators all across the globe in the process.
The Belarusian table tennis athlete has achieved many standout goals in his lengthy career including finishing as the Men’s Singles runner up to Sweden’s Jan-Ove Waldner at the 1997 World Championships in Manchester, England and reaching top spot in the ITTF World Rankings table one year later.
More recently Samsonov lifted the Men’s Singles trophy at the 2017 ITTF Challenge Belgosstrakh Belarus Open in Minsk and helped guide the national team to qualification success for the Men’s Championship Division at the upcoming Liebherr 2017 European Championships.
Receiving the Order of Honour alongside Vladimir Samsonov was Tennis star and former world no.1 Victoria Azarenka, and President Alexander Lukashenko has now tasked both Sporting Greats with the challenge of passing down their talent to Belarus’ young and aspiring sporting stars.
“I often say to the great athletes, including Vika: the fact that you have reached the heights is good, and now you have to bring up at least one such a person as yourself and raise this young player to these peaks. This is the gift to the country if you have reached such the heights and helped to accomplish the same to several people”, President Alexander Lukashenko.
Vladimir Samsonov has enjoyed many high moments throughout his table tennis days, and the ITTF Publications Editor Ian Marshall believes the Belarusian competitor fully deserves his recognition as one of the world’s top sporting legends.
“Everybody likes Vladi, you never hear anyone say anything bad about him. He upholds the best values of sport, he is the perfect role model. Playing he possesses the qualities of all great sporting personalities; he appears to have more time to play than most mortals, his control over the table tennis ball his legendary skill. He is a star, a superstar of our sport but always he is humble always gracious, always you feel comfortable in his presence; a sportsman in the true sense of the word. The honour is well merited”, Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor.