Germany, Portugal and Sweden led ten other nations at the 2016 European Table Tennis Olympic Qualification Tournament. There were two opportunities for athletes to qualify. First a group stage and eight single elimination brackets were constructed with the winner from each of the brackets qualifying to the Olympics. The second opportunity had eligible athletes divided into two single elimination brackets where the winner from each bracket qualifying to the Olympics. The European Table Tennis Olympic Qualification Tournament was held in Halmstad, Sweden from April 12th to April 16th 2016.
The women’s brackets saw relatively few upsets as six out of the eight top seeds ended up winning the bracket. The two upsets were from Group E where Netherlands’ Jie Li lost to Romania’s Daniela Monterio Dodean 4-1 who them proceeded to lose to Portugal’s Fu Yu 4-1 in the final. The other upset happened in Group G where top seed Elizabeta Samaro from Romania lost to Serbia’s Gabriela Feher 4-0 who then proceeded to lose to Russia’s Polina Mikhailova 4-1.
The other female qualifiers were Germany’s Ying Han, Germany’s Petrissa Solja, Turkey’s Melek Hu, Poland’s Qian Li and Austra’s Jia Liu. Germany’s Xiaona Shan won Group C, however, a nation can only qualify two athletes and since she’s the lowest ranked out of the three Germans she does not qualify to the Olympics. The Olympic quota will be reallocated to the second stage for a total of three available quotas.
For the second stage on the Red Draw both Netherlands’ Jie Li and Sweden’s Matilda Ekholm reached the final in narrow 4-3 wins over Serbia’s Ana Maria Erdelji and Hungary’s Georgina Pota respectively. The final was won by Jie Li in another narrow 4-3 victory. The final of the Blue Draw was between Ukraine’s Tetyana Bilenko and Sweden’s Fen Li. Li won the match and Olympic quota 4-0. The final quota was left between the two final losers. Ekholm won the match over Bilenko 4-0 to book her spot to the Olympics.
The men’s first stage contained quite a few upsets with only four out of the eight top seeds qualifying to the Olympics. The top seeds which qualified were Germany’s Timo Boll, Portugal’s Marcos Freitas, Portugal’s Tiago Apolonia and Russia’s Alexander Shibaev.
The largest upset came in Group H where Slovenia’s Bojan Tokic upset Sweden’s Kristian Karlsson in the first round on route to winning a quota. Sweden would still qualify with Par Gerwell defeating Great Britain’s Paul Drinkhall 4-1 in Group G. Another upset occurred in the final match of Group A where Greece’s Panagiotis Gionis defeated World number 8 Vladimir Samsonov 4-1 to qualify to the Olympics. While Germany’s Bastian Steger won Group D over Croatia’s Andrej Gacina in a 4-2 match he did not qualify to the Olympics. A nation can only qualify a maximum of two athletes in the individual event and with three qualified athletes it means that the lowest ranked athlete, Steger will not be given a quota. The Olympic quota will be reallocated to the second stage for a total of three available quotas.
For the second stage, in the Red Draw the final match was between France’s Emmanuel Lebesson and Ukraine’s Lei Kou. In a match which saw multiple set lead changes it was Lebesson whom won the match 4-3. The final of the Blue Draw saw Denmark’s Jonathan Groth take a 3-0 lead before France’s Simon Gauzy performed a comeback to force a seventh set. Groth was able to compose himself to win the final set 11-3. The final quota was left between the two final losers. Kou won the match over Gauzy 4-2 to book his spot to the Olympics.
Athletes from Europe will have one more opportunity to qualify to the Olympics, through the World Rankings which will be published in the coming weeks.
Quotas by Nations
- Germany – 3
- Portugal – 3
- Sweden – 3
- Russia – 2
- Austria – 1
- Denmark – 1
- France – 1
- Greece – 1
- Netherlands – 1
- Poland – 1
- Slovenia – 1
- Turkey – 1
- Ukraine – 1
- ITTF. 2016 ITTF-European Olympic Qualification Tournament. Access on April 16 2016.