The story of the German Table Tennis team at Beijing 2008

​Table Tennis ​is the biggest sport in China, it has a completely different standing and we were being greeted differently there than we would in countries like Switzerland in Europa or America. I remember it well, Dirk Nowitzki was carrying the flag in the opening ceremony, Timo and me were just trotting behind somewhere a few metres away and if you have such a big guy in the front carrying the flag then that is very special. Yeah, you just feel very proud and a bit flashed from what you see. It’s a unique experience. In Beijing, we competed in the Team and Individual event, starting with the Team event. And yeah, it just started step by step and it was good for us that the competition started with the group stages, where we played first against Croatia and won 3-0 but every match was on a knife edge. In the next round, we played against Singapore where we won 3-1 as I lost against their top player, Gao Ning. And the last match against Canada was a mere formality, which we won 3-0 and reached our goal finishing first in the group. Three very tough opponents and a tough double with Kan Yo, Jun Mitzutani who was a world class player and Seiya Kishikawa, who we knew well from training. So we had a tough challenge right away. I was first in the box and the Arena was full. They were about 8,000 people but they were louder than an arena in Germany which has twice as many people. So my heartbeat was quite high. And then when I was up 10-8 in the fifth set, I was already celebrating and saying: “Come on Dima, one more point and you’ve done it!”. And then all of a sudden it was 10-10 again and every point seemed like an eternity to me. And then when I had won the match and fell to the floor everything seemed like in a trance and I knew that I have done a huge step for the team towards winning our medal. Timo then continued with a very strong match against Mitzutani which I believe finished 3-1, quite a clear win and we were leading 2-0 overall and knew we only have to get one more point. So we made the decision to send the supposed weaker double with Christian and me into the race to give Timo another chance to play the singles later on as we saw that as a bigger chance for us. We sadly lost the doubles closely. Afterwards Christian had to go in the box and play the game of his life and he dominated Kan Yo, the top player from Japan but couldn’t seal the deal. He had match points and gave a high lead away and I was trembling and thought: “dude, one more point and we have done it!”. But was lost on a knife’s edge and Timo had to go in the box again. After the game I had to go outside to take a breath of fresh air, I thought I was going to have a nervous breakdown. Timo was back then the number 5 or 6 in the world, Kishikawa was maybe number 50 so everyone expected a win from Timo, which of course he knew as well, which increased the pressure on him tremendously. Nonetheless, he had a good start and was leading 2-0 but then Seiya came back and it was 2-2. In the last set, the fifth and final set, I was practically with him in the box. I was thinking Timo do this serve you might get that response, follow it up like that and hopefully it will work and I remember taking small sips from my water bottle because I was so nervous. I have never been so nervous during a match that I haven’t played myself. I was so engrossed in the match it was unbelievable. That much pressure, I don’t even have when I play myself, it is easier to play yourself. I don’t remember what was going through my head but when Timo scored the last and final point, I just leaped from my chair what felt like 3 metres high over the barrier and was almost already near him. To just share the common joy and it was simply… to sum it up in one word we were just happy. And we remembered that moment for the days and even years to come. And you could see from our reaction that we celebrated it like a gold medal even before we played the final because we knew that it was going to be hard to beat China. And then I had to play Wan Hao, who I watched 4 years ago on TV when he played the final in Athens, which was incredible. And Wang Liqin and Ma Lin as well, all 3 of them were absolute legends in Table Tennis. And so to play against such legends in the final was just unbelievable. And then the worst thing happened in such an important match that can happen to a Table Tennis player, I started with a fault on the serve, which happens very very rarely to us and to me as well. And then the second serve slipped a bit half long to the left so he could attack it right away and with what a speed, I only thought “oh that is a rather bad start here against Wang Hao.” I did improve upon that during the game and played to my standards again and then it was a very good game but there was just not enough to get me back in the game, but I enjoyed every second and every hit. We tried our best and I think we played better than any other nation against China. Winning a medal, a silver medal in Table Tennis, especially at home of Table Tennis in China was so special and the atmosphere in the arena and everything else it was just a dream come true for us.

7 thoughts on “The story of the German Table Tennis team at Beijing 2008

  1. Why badminton don't have 5 sets like table tennis is because the matches are already long enough with 21 points compared to table tennis 11 points and badminton also has a possiblity to deuce to 30

  2. A gdzie my w każdej dziedzinie.Tylko kasa idzie na boki w polskich związkach.Juz od dzieciaka widzialem od zaplecza."WOLNOŚĆ SŁOWA"

  3. Some people might think it’s silly that ping pong is an Olympic event, but it still counts as a sport and I think it fits. China usually dominates the table tennis matches and I’m expecting a lot of action on the table in Tokyo next year!

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