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PostPosted: 29 Mar 2010, 03:36 
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Hi!

About two weeks ago I conducted an interview with one of the greats in TT, Jan-Ove Waldner. The reason for interview was a discussion about Waldner I had on another forum and since I know Waldner personally I took the chance to interview him.

We met for lunch and talked for a couple of hours with my computer and questions on the table beside us so that I easily could take notes from what he was saying. During the whole interview he was eager and interested to answer all my questions even though I lied a little bit about the numbers of questions when we talken before the interview. If you have any questions about the interview feel free to ask me right away.

Many of the questions were asked by the forum members of another forum and on my webpage and some of them is from me directly.

I don't consider this to be a great piece of art but I hope that you enjoy hearing what Waldner has to say about things. And I also have to ask you not to use this interview without my written permission, that was one of the conditions from Waldner. I also would like to send a great big thank you to brabhamista for helping to translate this into this english version. If anyone is interested in the swedish version I have published this on my website (www.pingisfan.se)

This is the last part of the interview and it's about Waldners career and some advice from the legend.

Hope you have enjoyed the interview and that it's brought some insight in the great mind of a tt-legend.

A big thanks to Jan-Ove for being a part of this interview and once againg thank you brabhamista for helping me with the translation.


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PostPosted: 29 Mar 2010, 03:44 
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Another big subject which raises a lot of questions, is that of Waldner’s career.

Which is your biggest success?
The Barcelona Olympics in 1992. I was the only Swede to win gold there and media interest was phenomenal. The Olympics is the ultimate title, the biggest thing you can win and I had prepared for such a long time for that tournament.

What are you most proud of in your table tennis career?
My attitude to the sport. I love table tennis.

Which match was your most fun of all time?
Oh, there are so many. I can’t think of any particular one right now.

Which match was your all-time best? The one where EVERYTHING worked?
It was the quarterfinal and semifinal in New Delhi in 1987 where I played Chen Longcan and Teng Yi. I had been sick in dysentery before the singles and had missed the team final because of that, but these two matches were easily the best I have ever played.

Which was your heaviest loss?
There are so many, haha! But perhaps to Ma Lin in the semifinal in Eindhoven in 1999. I had 2-0 and 16-11 in the third and up until then I had done as I pleased in the match. That was a really heavy loss.

Which was the hardest time of your career?
It was after I injured my foot in 2002. I could not play for such a long time.

Were you ever close to quitting table tennis as a youth?
No, I was too good to quit.
(Waldner says this without hesitation or a hint of a smile. A sign of his determination and will power.)

Did you always want to be the best in the world?
Yes.
(Same thing. Not a hint of a smile.)

What was your main driving force? Winning? Competing? The perfect match?
It was the actual competing. I love to compete and I compete at everything all the time.

How do you motivate yourself these days?
I play so few matches these days that it is no problem to focus. It helps to play in a good and fun team too. Apart from this, I do not practise as much as I used to, but to keep it very simple, it all boils down to my love for this sport.

When will you quit?
I’ll stay one more year in Fulda. After that we’ll see.

Will you play in Pingisligan (the highest Swedish league) before you quit?
Most likely, but at this point in time it is too big a difference. There are too few spectators and the organisation is poor here compared to in Germany.

Do you aspire to be a trainer or coach?
Not yet. But if this happened, I am more likely to become a match coach than a trainer. I prefer the match setting.

What will you do when you quit table tennis as a pro player?
I will continue within table tennis, but I do not know with what exactly. Perhaps as a coach or working for a manufacturer.

Do you regret anything in your career?
No, I am not that kind of person.

How would you rank today on the World Ranking?
Around 50.

Will you ever take part in World Championships for Veterans or similar?
I don’t think so.

You won the Swedish Championships in 2006, but didn’t take part in the Worlds. Why?
I had decided that before the win. My back is too weak these days for the kind of effort a World Championship bid requires. I know what such a bid calls for and I would not have managed that.

Why did you fail to appear at the US Open in 1997?
The organisation was frankly lousy and a lot of players left. I left because I wanted to show that the arrangement was simply too poor. Sometimes you have to do that. I would have liked to play the actual competition though, but it did not turn out like that.

Do you loose more close matches now than before? If so, why?
Yes, I loose more close matches these days. It is consequence of playing less matches. You simply loose mental and physical match fitness. That is the reason I look forward to Safir International and the Swedish Championships. It is good fun to compete.

How hard do table tennis players train compared to other sports? Compare with bowling, where some say you can be good without really hard training.
All sports require hard training. Everybody trains hard, but it is natural that some endurance sports require more time than other sports do. But to answer your question, I’d say that all elite level table tennis players are very, very fit and have always trained very hard.

Being a table tennis player it is very important to be properly fit and in trim to be able to maintain the concentration levels required of table tennis. Naturally, the shape your body is in affects other parts of the game as well.

*

Let’s cover a few personal questions. I have left out most of the ones not related to table tennis. This interview is about table tennis and not for a tabloid.

Why didn’t you get a driving license?
I was just about to complete it. I had done the driving and was able to drive, but missed the theoretical test. In the end the whole thing sort of fizzled out.

Who is the greatest talent in Sweden right now?
Mikael Appelgren, hahaha... No, that is too tough a question. We have many good ones.

What about Alexander Franzén and his prospects for the future?
He looks very good and it is great that he is competing internationally. It will be good fun to see him play doubles with Jörgen Persson at the Swedish Championships. (The pair eventually reached the semifinals).

Do you have any obsessions when you play table tennis?
No.

What makes you nervous when you play?
I don’t think like that. I am positive all the time. If you focus and work on the next point and try to win it, you won’t be nervous.

If you hadn’t played table tennis, what would you have done instead?
I would have played football, tennis or some other sport. Definitively something to do with a ball.

Do you recognise yourself in any international artists or sportsmen? I’m thinking about
Maradona, Roger Federer, Mick Jagger or someone like that. If so, why?
No, not really. All great sportsmen are special in their own way and by that I mean special in a good way.

You are sometimes portrayed as a loner. What do you think about that?
I am and I am not. When you don’t live in a relationship, that is perhaps what happens. I really enjoy people, but at the same time I like to stay in at home after a lot of travel. I really value time with myself. It all depends on how you see things and this is just my way.

How is your restaurant W doing? What is your favourite dish or drink on the menu?
The restaurant is closed at the moment as it is changing owners. We’ll see what happens. Anyhow, the meatballs are my favourite dish and I don’t have a favourite drink really.

Do you know what is going on in table tennis today? Do you watch it on TV, keep track of results, talk to other players or coaches, etc?
I keep a check on it constantly. I talk to the players in the Swedish team and look up results and video clips from the Pro Tour. I follow most of the stuff that is available. I watch TV a lot and discuss table tennis, both with older players who are now coaches and currently active players. I know what is going on.

What do you think of China? I imagine it is your second homeland. Is that correct?
I like China because table tennis is such a big thing over there. I have spent so much time in China and it is always great to be there.

Would you consider moving there permanently?
No, I am too fond of home.

How big a star are you in China, Germany and Sweden?
In China I am huge, in Germany I am semi-big and in Sweden it is the way it is.

*

Finally, we will deal with a few questions which may serves as tips for players.

How much do you need to practise to become good?
5-6 hours per day, six days a week from the age of 12-14. That means about 30 hours per week.

Which characteristics are important to make it big in table tennis?
A good sense for tactics and a feeling for the ball, good serve and returns, good footwork. If you have all that, then you are off to a good start.

What is good coaching advice during matches? Can coaching really influence the game?
Coaching is enormously important and a good coach is fundamental. Some people can be coached too much so you can not coach everybody the same way. Swedish table tennis is not up to scratch when it comes to this, to really have a feeling for the player. A coach really has to know the player to get a comprehensive picture of him and advice which may work for one player, may not work for another.

The same principle applies to training. You have to know the player properly to realise when you are pushing him or her too hard or not enough.

Imagine you are a happy forty-plus amateur. Should you practise to become better, to win tournaments or just play to have fun? You have to choose an answer.
In that case you should play to have fun and to get some exercise.

THE END!


---------------------------------------------------------------
Part 1, Opponents: viewtopic.php?f=6&t=11881
Part 2, Equipment: viewtopic.php?f=6&t=11897
Part 3, His style, state of TT: viewtopic.php?f=6&t=11916
Part 4, Career and some advice


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PostPosted: 29 Mar 2010, 04:26 
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yes many thanks Anger Manager,He sounded relaxed and honest

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PostPosted: 29 Mar 2010, 12:08 
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Incredible stuff there. Thank you so much for doing this interview. Great achievement !

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PostPosted: 29 Mar 2010, 18:02 
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Fantastic interview, i really enjoyed it and it was most informative. Thanks very much Anger manager!

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PostPosted: 29 Mar 2010, 20:45 
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Yep, excellent stuff and very nice to read, Anger manager. :)

On a personal note, I really enjoyed translating it and would definitively help out again in the future should you need it. :)

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PostPosted: 29 Mar 2010, 22:52 
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Great interview Anger manager (and brabhamista), was great fun to read!

Quote:
Which was your heaviest loss?
There are so many, haha! But perhaps to Ma Lin in the semifinal in Eindhoven in 1999. I had 2-0 and 16-11 in the third and up until then I had done as I pleased in the match. That was a really heavy loss.


This was one of the only two matches where I got to see Waldner play live. Just my luck I guess.
Then again Ma Lin is my second favourite player and it still was a great match to watch.

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PostPosted: 09 Apr 2010, 06:10 
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brabhamista wrote:
Yep, excellent stuff and very nice to read, Anger manager. :)

On a personal note, I really enjoyed translating it and would definitively help out again in the future should you need it. :)


Jörgen Persson and Mikael Appelgren next then... :)


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PostPosted: 09 Apr 2010, 06:15 
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Anger manager wrote:
brabhamista wrote:
Yep, excellent stuff and very nice to read, Anger manager. :)

On a personal note, I really enjoyed translating it and would definitively help out again in the future should you need it. :)


Jörgen Persson and Mikael Appelgren next then... :)

I vote for a Classe Wahlgren interview. :)

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PostPosted: 09 Apr 2010, 06:40 
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mynamenotbob wrote:
Anger manager wrote:
brabhamista wrote:
Yep, excellent stuff and very nice to read, Anger manager. :)

On a personal note, I really enjoyed translating it and would definitively help out again in the future should you need it. :)


Jörgen Persson and Mikael Appelgren next then... :)

I vote for a Classe Wahlgren interview. :)


I have a text about why he loves TT if you would like.. only in swedish.


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PostPosted: 23 Apr 2011, 01:32 
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The last part of Waldner's career was a journeyman's last gasp to try to win something meaningful. From 1998 to his international retirement in 2005 for 8 years, he competed in almost 50 international tournaments and yielded ZERO international titles. The only notables, but yielding no titles, were the Olympic Finals in 2000 vs KLH and Olympics 2004 semi-finals vs Ryu Seung Min; other than these, he was a mere journeyman and quite often losing at the first and second rounds! Also, in almost 20 over years of European championships, he only won one singles title. Looking at his international titles won (not counting European titles), they were not many ie statistically, it isn't great. If he was Chinese, he wouldn't stand a chance of lasting so long.
Truthfully, Waldner never won a single international title with the 40mm table tennis ball!!
And for those who think highly of his 4 grand slam titles, the irony is that he won them especially the 1997 World Champs and 1992 Olympics without playing a single top four let alone top ten Chinese player. Seriously, if Liu Guoliang and Kong Linghui had gone on to meet him, I don't think he would have won as from 1995 to 1999, he hardly could beat Liu Guoliang and Liu was a nemesis to him then during that period 1995 to 1999.

Waldner is an exciting and interesting player but in terms of speed of play aspect alone which plays a significant factor in table tennis, he ranks far behind the greatest players. In terms of anticipation, he is probably at the top. He has great control of the ball but he is certainly not the fastest player in history by a mile. I wouldn't rate him the best - I consider Guo Yue Hua the best although he did not have a long career. He beat both Waldner and Persson twice in the Bundesliga and was a real hard hitter with a great defence to boot during those times when rubbers were severely inferior compared to now. Waldner, like Man U and English soccer, is simply hugely overrated and there is a lot of selective attribution in considering him the greatest.


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PostPosted: 23 Apr 2011, 04:06 
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piyu1154 wrote:
The last part of Waldner's career was a journeyman's last gasp to try to win something meaningful. From 1998 to his international retirement in 2005 for 8 years, he competed in almost 50 international tournaments and yielded ZERO international titles. The only notables, but yielding no titles, were the Olympic Finals in 2000 vs KLH and Olympics 2004 semi-finals vs Ryu Seung Min; other than these, he was a mere journeyman


Bitter much? The guy is correctly revered as a legend based on his longevity. If he was Chinese, he wouldn't have had the chance to play as long internationally, but I believe during the period you refer to (1998-2005), I don't believe he dropped out of the world top 25 and was in two Olympic semi finals and a final. If thats a journeyman pro to you, then I pity you.

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PostPosted: 23 Apr 2011, 04:39 
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Welcome to the forum, piyu! :party:
I have 3 names on my list of greatest players and I won't and I cannot rank them: Waldner, GYH, and WLQ. They are the greatest IMO, although some of you might have known who my favourite player of the 3 is. (Hint: I play PH, :) )
They are so many players I want to win in this coming WTTC:
WLQ- just because if he wins, we don't have to debate anymore who is the greatest of them all.
Ma Lin- my fav. at the present time; if he wins, I can add his name to the other 3 names on my list of greatest.
Timo- Persson won 20 years ago and Bengtsson won 40 years ago. It would be so great if we get a World Champ. from Europe in 2011. We are overdue for a champ. from Europe and we are overdue for a lefty champ (last ones from France and Japan).
So sorry for going off topic :$ but I just cannot hide my excitement for the upcoming WTTC :clap: .


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PostPosted: 24 Apr 2011, 01:50 
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Greetings to my fellow table tennis enthusiasts,
having made the case on the cons-aspect of Waldner, let me made a "pros" or positive aspects of Waldner. The fact that he could be ranked in the top 25 right up to the ripe old age of mid-30's to 40 is testimony to the evergreen qualities, experience, guile, tactical wileness and brilliant anticipation of Waldner when fading speed and declining fitness as part of the natural process of ageing took its natural toll and course. The best of Waldner was seen from 1990 to 1993 in my opinion (strange that almost every single world class table tennis player could only sustain brilliance for a period of about three to eight years or so with the exception of Victor Barna). Few people take much notice of his defensive skills due to a sharp tactical sense, anticipation and counter-attacking blocking game preferring to focus on his variations of stroke and service. He is a stylish player with a wide repertoire of strokes at his disposal and a wonder and wonderful to watch when in his element and in full flow and form. Without a single doubt, he is my favourite tt player to watch and enjoy! He will be remembered not so much for his early 90's brilliance but his last part or later part career when he almost landed another grandslam title in the Olympics - tt is such a demanding game on reflexes and speed cum agility that it is kudos to the depth of experience and tactical acumen/wile of Waldner to overcome the ravages of age to beat world class players enroute to almost landing the big ones. in his late 30's.

If there is any one singular aspect of Waldner's game besides so many other aspects so highly admired, it is Waldner's popularization and refinement of the unique and innovative service stroke which Timo Boll and many world class players use frequently to great effect. Another aspect which I enjoy is his ability of countering and returning topspin with side spin bamboozling the opponent. His reading of the game is non-pareil and second to none. He may not have the most powerful and speediest strokes but certainly the best of tt brains. Some of the battles of Waldner have entered folklore - there are too many to mention. Without a shadow of doubt, he is a living legend of tt. Funny, that all these legends of TT have become so fat - few escape the beer belly phenomenon post-retirement.


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PostPosted: 24 Apr 2011, 02:14 
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Greetings ShaolinTT,

it would be great to get a world champion from Europe or at least outside China as this Chinese TT dynasty is not so good for the popularization of the game. For me, it would be good to see Timo or a new name winning the WC. Not begrudging Samsonov, it would not be so good for TT if he wins - it would mean that the standard of tt has seemingly stagnated or frozen in time. Probably now, the longest playing veteran besides Persson, his anticipation and defence is iconic and for the ages but honestly, it would be great to see a new face as World Champ to reinvigorate the table tennis universe.


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