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Table Tennis News and Reviews » Blog Archive » Moscow Olympic Legacy Welcomes Modern Day Stars

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  • 16Oct

    Leaving a legacy; it would seem to be a key clause when considering the name of the city that will host the Olympic Games.

    In 1974 two cities bid for the honour of hosting the 1980 Olympic Games, much different to the modern day scenario, Moscow won and Los Angeles had to lick its wounds. Thus for the one and only time in the history of the Summer Olympic Games, an Eastern European city had the honour.

    It was success for the Russian capital and the legacy is evident.


    Alexei Smirnov, very much at the centre of local mediaattention in Moscow  Photo By: Vladimir Mirskij

    Home in 2009
    The USZ Druzhba Stadium that had been built for those Games some 30 years ago is the home for the 2009 Liebherr Men’s World Cup.

    Unfortunately, the 1980 Games were somewhat marred by various countries boycotting the event, thankfully those days are now over. They are resigned to history and the message from all concerned at the Draw Ceremony on Thursday 15th October 2009 in the USZ Druzhba Stadium reflected the building’s name.

    The Name
    USZ means Universal Sports Hall but more pertinently, the word “druzhba” when translated into English is “welcome” and with Hungary’s Judit Farago, ITTF Executive Director, leading the way, it was very much welcome to Moscow.

    Thirty Years Very Appropriate
    Now, it is some 30 thirty years since the USZ Druzhba Stadium was constructed and very aptly, the staging of the Liebherr Men’s World Cup in 2009 is the 30th occasion on which the tournament has bee held.

    A fact that had not escaped the eagle eye of Judit Farago, as she impressed everyone by addressing those assembled in Russian; the language being compulsory in Hungarian schools during her formative years.

    The Draw Begins
    Thirty years ago the event was won by China’s Guo Yuehua beating compatriot Li Zhenshi in the final and thirty years on it was a Chinese players who started the mechanics of the draw proceedings.

    Well, there was no draw in his case; the leading four players on the current ITTF Men’s World Ranking list were automatically placed in the top position in each of the four groups.

    Matryoshka
    Nevertheless Ma Long, the no.1 seed and looking quite bemused, received a Matryoshka, each player had to open a Matryoshka, in which was placed the letter of the group in which they were drawn.

    A Matryoshka? Well just look at the first few letter and you see the Latin derivation from the word “mater” meaning mother. It’s the traditional Russian doll which is a big doll (the mother) with a smaller one inside, then another smaller one inside the smaller one, then another smaller one inside the smaller one, then another and so on. I think you get the drift?

    Groups Revealed
    The dolls were duly opened with on occasions the screech of the twisting the dolls head from its body setting teeth on edge but eventually all was revealed, the groups were announced and matters were concluded.

    Fifteen names were drawn with the one vacant place being allotted to the winner of the Intercontinental Cup involving the representatives of Africa, Latin America, North America and Oceania.

    It is the Intercontinental Cup that starts proceedings on Friday 16th October 2009 and it an opportunity for many schoolchildren to see top class table tennis.

    School Interest and Promotion
    “At the moment table tennis is played in over 400 schools in Moscow”, explained Jury Nagornykh, Vice President of the Russian Table Tennis Federation; the numbers bode well for the future but for the present Moscow eyes focus on Alexei Smirnov, the local man as he faces the best in the world.

    School Interest and Promotion
    He is on centre stage and perhaps 30 years on or, let’s hope even sooner, one player from those 400 schools emerges and is in the limelight; then they, like I do today, can reflect on 30 years past. Thirty years of immense change in 2009 there is no boycott; competition, intense competition but watching the players at the Draw Ceremony great friendships.

    Change for the better and the name of the stadium sends the perfect message.

    Chuang Chih-Yuan (left) selects the Matryoshka as (right) Vladimir Samsonov and Ma Long smile in bewilderment after receiving their gifts .
    Photo by Vladimir Mirskij

    Intercontinental Cup
    Quadri Aruni (NGR), Robbie Frank (AUS), Cazuo Matsumoto (BRA), Xavier Therien (CAN)

    Liebherr Men’s World Cup
    Group A: Ma Long (CHN), Oh Sang Eun (KOR), Werner Schlager (AUT), Kenta Matsudaira (JPN)
    Group B: Timo Boll (GER), Joo Se Hyuk (KOR), Kalinikos Kreanga (GRE), Alexei Smirnov (RUS)
    Group C: Vladimir Samsonov (BLR), Chen Qi (CHN), Cheung Yuk (HKG), Intercontinental Cup Winner
    Group D: Michael Maze (DEN), Jun Mizutani (JPN), Dimitrij Ovtcharov (GER), Chuang Chih-Yuan (TPE)

    Posted by ttfan @ 8:44 am

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