by Ian Marshall, Editor
He was 74 years old but had no intention of hanging up his racket and announcing retirement. In fact, he was planning to compete in the European Para Championships to be staged later this year in Helsingorg, Sweden
Esa Miettinen, a close friend and also a player of stature, most notably in 2005 at the European Para Championships in Jesolo, he joined forces with Markku Manner and Kimmo Jokinen to win men’s team class 9 gold, paid tribute his colleague.
“He became disabled in a bad car accident when 18 years old. He was driving the car to go to an orienteering competition. After that he started to play table tennis; his career was extremely long lasting and successful. During 34 years he won an overall total of 44 medals at Paralympic Games, World Championships and European Championships. He had maybe the longest international career in paralympic table tennis history.
Matti was well known for his friendly personality and great sense of humor. He loved to talk and make jokes with everybody; our condolences to Matti´s family and friends.”
Most notably in addition to his success at the Barcelona 1992 Paralympic Games, at the Atlanta 1996 Paralympic Games, partnering Jari Kurkinen, Matti Launonen secured men’s team class 1-2 gold. Also, at the 1990 World Para Championships in Assen he won the men’s singles class 1 title.
Similarly, at the European Para Championships, he enjoyed outstanding success; amongst the host of medals gained he won the men’s singles class 1 title in 1995 in Hillerod, 1997 in Stockholm and 1999 in Piestany.
One of the greats of not only para table tennis, also of para sport; he is sadly missed, never forgotten, always remembered.
Gaël Marziou (Beijing, 201