28 Dec 2018

Experienced eyes watched from the tiered seating, remembering in an air of nostalgia the most recent instance when the World Championships had been staged on the west coast of Sweden; in 1993 the destination had been Gothenburg, some 80 miles north of Halmstad.

On that occasion, the host nation had won the Men’s Team title; a quarter of a century later, the colour of the medal was bronze but the effort made, the sense of pride and the response to the cries of the adoring supporters was no different.

by Ian Marshall, Editor

In Gothenburg, Anders Thunström, the national coach, had selected Peter Karlsson, Jörgen Persson and Jan-Ove Waldner for the final against China; Mikael Appelgren and Erik Lindh were resigned to the bench. The end result was a three-one win but it was hard fought, it was a true team effort.

Every individual contest lasted the full distance; matches in those days being best three games, each game to 21 points, change of service after five points. In the second engagement of the fixture, Jan-Ove Waldner suffered defeat by the minimal two point margin in the decider when facing Ma Wenge; the defeat coming after Peter Karlsson had given Sweden the perfect start. He excelled, he overcame Wang Hao, a right handed defender, not the player by the same name who in 2009 became World champion in Yokohama. Jörgen Persson restored the Swedish lead by overcoming Wang Tao, before Jan-Ove Waldner concluded matters; he beat Wang Tao.

In Halmstad, in the crucial contests, Ulf Carlsson, the national coach, selected Mattias Falck, Kristian Karlsson and Jon Persson; Anton Källberg and Truls Moregard were for the majority of the duels on support duty.

The no.9 seeds, Sweden concluded the initial stage group behind Germany, the top seeds but ahead of Hong Kong, the no.3 seeds; crucially, they recorded a three-two success against Hong Kong, every member of the team contributing. Kristian Karlsson beat Ho Kwan Kit, Mattias Falck overcame Lan Siu Hang before in the vital fifth match of the fixture, Jon Persson defeated Ho Kwan Kit to seal the win.

In many ways, the bearded Jon Persson, the archetypal Viking warrior, typified the Swedish spirit, he relished in the battles, he wanted to play in the big matches; his reaction when winning not only motivated his colleagues, it motivated the supporters.

A hard fought three-two win against Hong Kong, in the opening round it was the same against Chinese Taipei; the man of the moment being Mattias Falck, in the opening match of the engagement he beat Chuang Chih-Yuan, in the concluding contest, he accounted for Chen Chien-An.

One contest away from achieving the goal Ulf Carlsson had set before a ball had been hit in anger; the English trio of Paul Drinkhall, Liam Pitchford and Sam Walker awaited in the quarter-finals. The Swedes were prepared, a three-nil win was recorded; the mission had been accomplished.

One round later a three-nil defeat was experienced at the hands of China’s Fan Zhendong, Ma Long and Xu Xin, the champions elect. Defeat but the class of 2018 could stand tall; shoulder to shouldler with their illustrious predecessors; as in 1993 team spirit had secured a place on the podium, Swedish pride was rekindled.

2018 Review of Year Sweden