by Wade Townsend
Kristian Karlsson isn’t using hyperbole when he talks about what it meant to be in Rio representing Sweden at the 2016 Olympic Games.
“I think that the Olympic Games is the most incredible experience you can have as a table tennis player.” Kristian Karlsson
The Olympic Games is a brief moment in time when the entire world has their consciousness consumed by sport. The competition has a sense of magic and awe about it. It’s undeniably special.
Despite the joy of making it to the Games and donning your nation’s uniform, at the end of the day it is a competition, and in sport you will often come up against disappointment.
When the table tennis got underway Sweden ran in to Korea Republic in the quarterfinals of the Men’s Team Event. It is a point of the competition where a medal begins to look in reach.
But it wasn’t to be for Karlsson. He lost to both Joo Sae Hyuk and Jung Young Sik in four games and the team went down 3-1.
“That was probably most devastating loss I’ve had in my career. Those important matches are tough to handle. That was hard.” Kristian Karlsson
The bigger stage brings with it greater heartbreak. But that is what makes the Games great; chasing the thrill of the win.
In the Men’s Singles Karlsson was the No.20 seed going in. He held his seeding but was block from progressing further by a formidable foe.
“In singles I lost to Vladimir Samsonov who eventually came fourth. I played really good against him but he was just too good that day. He proved himself to be in quite good shape.”
But Karlsson had given it his all, and the experience of competing and showing the world what table tennis has to offer trumps any loss.
“Overall it was the most incredible thing ever. So many athletes everywhere, the atmosphere in the village, everything is just amazing.”
With Rio 2016 now one year behind, Karlsson has his gaze firmly set on Tokyo 2020. He seems to be following his own words of wisdom.
“I would definitely recommend everyone experiencing an Olympic Games.”
Take his advice. Get yourself to the Games.