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