That hasn’t happened since 1996: Without “two grenades” to the European Table Tennis Championships

That hasn’t happened since 1996
Without “two grenades” to the table tennis championship

Neither Timo Boll nor Dimitrij Ovtcharov are competing for Germany in the European team in table tennis. That has not happened since 1996. The 29-year-old Patrick Franziska feels ready for the upheaval, which is still a test run.

The other table tennis nations in Europe have been waiting for this moment for ages: The series winner Germany joins the this Tuesday starting European Team Championship in Romania without his top stars Timo Boll and Dimitrij Ovtcharov. The last time that neither the record European champion Boll nor the Olympic third party Ovtcharov belonged to the German EM team was in Bratislava in 1996. If, on the other hand, both played, the Germans won the title seven times between 2007 and 2019.

Their absence has something to do with the completely overloaded calendar in the year after the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. In order to be able to catch up as much as possible that had to be canceled in 2020, the table tennis associations also have two European Championship tournaments (individual and team) in one Olympic year, the start of the new tournament series WTT and the individual world championships in November USA bruised. This is exactly what 40-year-old Boll and 33-year-old Ovtcharov want to focus on in this second half of the year.

“When two grenades like Boll and Ovtcharov are in the front who take the pressure off with their class, it is of course easier,” said national coach Jörg Roßkopf. “That is exactly why it is very important that the slightly younger players get the chance to act even under pressure.” More responsibility for the world number 18. Patrick Franziska (Saarbrücken), a chance for aspiring players like Benedikt Duda (Bergneustadt) or Dang Qiu (Düsseldorf): The national coach will test against Ukraine from the first European Championship game on Wednesday (6 p.m. / the great upheaval that will be coming up in a few years.

Germany still one of the favorites

The bad news for rivals like Portugal, Sweden or France is there: Although this German team has lost its aura of invincibility, it is still one of the favorites in Cluj-Napoca. Because the European top 16 tournament last weekend, also in the absence of Ovtcharov and Boll, it was not the World Cup runner-up Mattias Falck from Sweden or one of the strong French who won, but a German again with Franziska.

“I really enjoy being a leader,” said the 29-year-old. “In Saarbrücken, I know that, I’m the oldie in the team. To accelerate from the front, to stand by the side and to help: That’s my thing. We want to prove ourselves and show that we can with this team can win against anyone in Europe. ”

The starting position is similar for German women. Since the two experienced Han Ying and Shan Xiaona are missing and individual European champion Petrissa Solja is ill, the team is now led by Nina Mittelham. The 24-year-old from TTC Berlin Eastside also just won the European ranking tournament. “It is also good that our youngest, 15-year-old Annett Kaufmann, is there to see the best players in Europe in competition and to gain experience,” said the new national coach Tamara Boros.

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