24 Feb 2018

They are just younger and younger when they start playing, competition is becoming harder and harder, more and more countries are investing big sums to find the talents that can evolve into international stars.

One of these countries is Russia; they arrived in Örebro for the Safir International which concludes on Sunday 25th February with 44 players; no less than 12 members of the group were born in 2006 or 2007.

by Per Hällström, Press Officer, Safir International

Almost all have not even reached 12 years of age; one of the youngest on duty is 10 year old Anastasiia Ivanova; she is present with her coach, Artem Otothgym

“Russia is investing a lot in young players. However, there are also clubs and parents who pay for the players’ participation in international competitions.” Artem Otothgym

Over the years Russia has enjoyed extensive success at the European Youth Championships but not the same at high international senior level.

“One of the problems we have in order to be as good on the senior side, many players start studying and stop playing table tennis professionally.” Artem Otothgym

Meanwhile, for Anastasia Ivanova, it does not seem to be a concern at the moment. She seems to enjoy playing table tennis.

“In this competition I want to have fun, fight and do my best. In the future, I’m aiming to become European champion.” Anastasiia Ivanova

Notably when I explained tor Artem Otothgym, that players in her age are not allowed to participate in the Swedish Youth Championships, I received a surprised facial expression.

“In Russia there are qualifying competitions regionally and the best goes to Russian Youth Championships. There are no age restrictions. My goal is for Anastasiia to join the national team and play at a high international level.” Anastasiia Ivanova.

The youngest player in the entire Mini Cadets competition in Örebro is Saudi Arabia’s Amer Alandanusi. He is only nine years old.

World Junior Circuit 2018 Swedish Junior & Cadet Open Russia

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