by Ian Marshall, Editor
Can he win the men’s title and become the only player to have claimed gold in three separate decades? He has been trying since 2011 but as yet has not achieved the goal! You cannot fault his effort!
Now 42 years old, Vladimir Samsonov won in 1998 in Halmstad when he beat Sweden’s Peter Karlsson in the final, the following year in Split he retained the title accounting for Frenchman, Christophe Legout in the title decider.
Later in 2001, he succeeded in Wels, again overcoming Peter Karlsson in the final, before in 2007 Arezzo he defeated Kalinikos Kreanga of Greece to emerge as the champion for the fourth time; now in 2019, can he rekindle those bygone days?
It is not beyond the bounds of possibility; last year in Montreux, he came pretty close. He ended Swedish hopes by beating both Kristian Karlsson and Mattias Falck before at the semi-final stage losing in six games to Germany’s Timo Boll, the champion elect. Fourth place was his lot; in the bronze medal match he was beaten in seven games by Denmark’s Jonathan Groth. Defeats but both in hard fought contests, on another day who knows?
Whatever the outcome, no player has competed in the tournament on more occasions than Vladimir Samsonov; in what will be the 48th edition since the first staging in 1971 in Zadar (there was no tournament in 2013), Montreux will be his 22nd appearance.
Furthermore, he holds another record, one which I suspect he might rather forget but for most mortals would be a quite incredible achievement. On eight occasions he has finished in runners up spot; in fact between 2008 in Frankfurt and 2011 in Liège, he achieved the feat on four consecutive occasions.
Notably he has been the runner up on twice as many occasions as his nearest rival; Sweden’s Jan-Ove Waldner was a silver medallist four times between 1987 in Basel and 1994 in Arezzo.
The goal is the title but there is another. A top three finish guarantees an invitation to the ITTF 2019 Men’s World Cup, later in the year; not too dissimilar from the forthcoming event in Montreux, a tournament he has won three times and in two different decades.
The CCB Europe Top 16 Cup will be broadcast by Eurosport:
Eurosport 2: Sunday 3rd February (6.45 pm – 8.10 pm) & Monday 4th February (1.00 pm – 2.00 pm)
Eurosport 1: Monday 4th February (4.45 pm – 5.30 pm)
Countries covered: Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Kirghizstan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Morocco, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom, Ukraine, Vatican.