As the inaugural European Games continue the second sport that offers direct qualification to the Olympics has ended. In table tennis the winner of the men’s and women’s singles qualifies to the Olympics. The 2015 European Games are currently being held in Baku, Azerbaijan and will be held from June 12th to June 28th 2015.
In the women’s event the winner ended up being Li Jiao from the Netherlands. The overall field at this competition was excellent as 9 out of the top 10 European players were all present and the main reason the tenth wasn’t present was because Germany had already sent its maximum quota of two athletes. Li Jiao is currently ranked 35th in the world and was seeded 10th in this competition. On her route for the gold medal she defeated four players ranked higher than her including second seed Liu Jia of Austria and her compatriot Li Jie in the finals. In the finals Li Jiao was able to sweep the match winning all her games 13-11, 11-5, 12-10, 11-5. The bronze medal went to Turkey’s Melek Hu.
The men’s tournament had a big shock before the first ball was even played as the second seeded Timo Boll of Germany had to withdraw due to illness. Overall it was the first and third seeds that reached the final where Germany’s Dimitrij Ovtcharov, ranked 6th in the world met Belarus’ Vladimir Samsonov, ranked 9th in the world. The match was quite interesting as Samsonov took the first two games, but Ovtcharov recovered and won the next two games, tying the match. Samsonov then took the important fifth game, but Ovtcharov countered by winning the sixth leading the finals to be decided by a single game. In the end it was Ovtcharov that pulled through winning that match 11-8. The bronze medal went to Ukraine’s Lei Kou.
The remaining spots for Europe in table tennis will be decided in 2016 plus European players could also qualify via the world rankings so this is far from the end of the road to most players. The European Games will continue for about another week, but the final direct qualification event, shooting is almost over so expect an update of that soon.
Quotas by Nation
- Germany – 1
- Netherlands – 1
- Baku2015. European Games Men’s Table Tennis Results. Access on June 20 2015.
- Baku2015. European Games Women’s Table Tennis Results. Access on June 20 2015.