by Ian Marshall
Overall, she becomes the eighth person and the first woman to hold the office.
Also, there is another first, she is the first ever reigning world champion to claim the role!
Previous presidents in the guise of Japan’s Ichiro Ogimura and Xu Yinsheng both won titles at World Championships but assumed the highest office when retired from international play.
The strategic pillars
In Houston she stated clearly that her goals were to create value through a membership centred governance, whilst strengthening the commercial growth of table tennis focused on four pillars: ITTF family, governance, growth and sustainability.
- United ITTF family: Unite the membership by bringing back peace, improve inclusion and engage in discussions with the continental bodies and its leadership.
- Strengthen governance: Clarify organisation, promote equity, and further strengthen the ties to the Olympic and Paralympic movement.
- Commercial growth: Innovate event structure, drive a strategic digital transformation and initiate new revenue streams.
- A sustainable future: Make ITTF a role model with the aim to inspire in the future IOC/IPC. In-line with UN development goals focus on increasing diversity and inclusion, decrease inequities, improve health, and aim for a more responsible manufacturing value process.
Forefront of sport
A most positive determined approach was evident as Petra Sörling looked to the future.
“I want to secure table tennis’s position as one of the world’s leading sports and aim even higher among the leading sports and reach for the top at the forefront of the sport community as a modern, diverse, and unified world-class sport federation. We are in a fast-transforming era when it comes to business and sport. It’s not only table tennis. We have to move on but without losing our tradition or our core values.” Petra Sörling
Additionally, Petra Sörling stated she aims to reinforce the focus on sustainability within the table tennis community and will launch programmes to increase diversity and inclusion to raise awareness of the positive health effects.
“At the heart of the ITTF group’s vision is to make table tennis accessible to all, for life and for future generations. To achieve this, the sport must make it its mission to focus its efforts towards three key areas: people, planet and prosperity.” Petra Sörling
Petra Sörling succeeds Germany’s Thomas Weikert and is the second Swede to hold the office; the one previous incumbent being Lollo Hammarlund in 1995.
Liking for United States
In 2018, partnering Denmark’s Pia Toelhoj, Petra Sörling won the women’s doubles 45-49 years category at the World Veteran Championships; the pair succeeding in a quite dramatic final. They beat Peru’s Milagritos Gorritti and Magali Montes by the narrowest of margins (6-11, 11-9, 11-9, 7-11, 11-9).
The success suggests Petra Sörling has a particular penchant for the United States; the tournament in question was held in Las Vegas.
A player, that is surely a most important credential; arguably even more pertinent is the fact she is a most active official.
At the time of the election, she held the positions of ITTF Executive Vice President – Finance, the President of the Swedish Table Tennis Association, whilst also being a member of the Swedish National Olympic Committee.
“I am deeply honoured to have been chosen for this position. I would like to thank all my dear friends and colleagues from the entire table tennis family. I want to be a President for all of you. I will work for and with you in the coming years; and I will keep my promise to you – to listen – as achieving my mission of leading the ITTF will not be possible without your valuable thoughts and commitments.” Petra Sörling