by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Now 52 years old, the name that stands out from that group is Jochen Wollmert; he is one of the unheralded heroes of sport.
Sweden’s Jörgen Persson, Croatia’s Zoran Primorac, Belgium’s Jean-Michel Saive and Nigeria’s Segun Toriola are all members of the select group who have competed in the table tennis events at seven consecutive Olympic Games.
Jochen Wollmert stands a worthy member of that club; when he competed in Rio de Janeiro, he was competing in his seventh consecutive Paralympic Games, the unusual factor being that on his landmark appearance, it was the only time that he did not depart with a precious medal.
Competing in Men’s Singles Class 7, on all six previous appearances, he secured a place on the podium; the majority of the time, the top step. He was a bronze medallist in Barcelona in 1992, silver medallist four years later in Atlanta and also in Athens in 2004; gold medallist in Sydney 2000, as well as in consecutive years in Beijing in 2008 and London in 2012.
Additionally he was a member of the successful outfit that won the Men’s Team Class 6-8 title in Atlanta and the Men’s Team Class 6-7 event in Athens. Additionally in Barcelona and Sydney, he was a Men’s Team Class 8 bronze medal winner.
Furthermore, in Taichung, Jochen Wollmert has strong support as Germany vies for honours.
Competing in Men’s Class 3, Jan Guertler and Thomas Schmidberger were members of the squad that won gold at the European Para Championships in both 2011 in Split and in 2013 in Lignano, as well as being silver medallists at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.
A member of the successful group on each occasion was Thomas Bruchle, a player with whom Thomas Schmidberger secured gold at the 2015 European Para Championships in Veijle, whilst being silver medallists at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games; a tournament in which Thomas Schmidberger was also a Men’s Singles Class 3 silver medallist.
Notable names and make no mistake, the remaining four members of the German group are most worthy competitors.
At the 2015 European Para Championships, Valentin Baus was a Men’s Team Class 5 gold medallist, Julianne Wolf a Women’s Singles Class 8 silver medallist.
Meanwhile, at the 2011 European Para Championships, Thomas Rau won Men’s Team Class 6 gold; whilst earlier this year in Bratislava at the 2017 World Team Para Championships, Lena Kramm was a Women’s Team Class 9-10 bronze medallist.
Play commences in Taichung with the individual events.