Tokyo Olympian Vishnu Saravanan obtained India’s first quota in sailing for the Paris Games at the ILCA 7 Men's World Championship in Australia on Wednesday.
Dimitrij Ovtcharov epitomizes resilience and the art of staging comebacks, propelled by an unwavering will and passion for table tennis.
At 35, Ovtcharov has navigated the peaks and troughs of his career with relentless determination, always clawing his way back into contention, reports Xinhua.
He stands as the German titan of table tennis, particularly when facing the world-renowned Chinese virtuoso, Ma Long.
Their storied rivalry, highlighted by a gripping semifinal clash in Tokyo where Ma Long eked out an 11-9 win in the decider before clinching the gold medal, remains etched in the annals of the sport.
Ovtcharov has challenged Ma Long 19 times, each attempt ending in defeat. Yet, his resolve remains unshaken.
“Believe it or not, I am looking forward to our 20th encounter, and despite past outcomes, I see a window of opportunity,” he declared.
Come this Friday, Ovtcharov will once again face the adversary he has yet to conquer, in the quarterfinals of the 2023 WTT Champions Frankfurt.
Defeat at the hands of Ma Long is no disgrace. “I can’t imagine any player boasts a winning record against him,” Ovtcharov mused, his respect for Ma Long apparent.
While not expecting to outdo his performance in Tokyo, Ovtcharov’s confidence in his abilities remains firm.
Currently riding the wave of a comeback after enduring a lengthy recovery from two ankle surgeries, he feels reinvigorated and eager to compete.
“For sure, I’ve progressed from where I was a few months ago. I’m anticipating this match with great enthusiasm,” he acknowledged.
In the dazzling spotlight typically reserved for pop icons, the WTT Champions series has ignited a fervor among German table tennis aficionados.
“Playing at home after such an extended interval, witnessing the crowds’ enthusiasm – it’s electrifying,” he confessed, buoyed by the burgeoning popularity of table tennis in Germany.
“For me, it’s revitalizing to return and participate in an event of this caliber,” he added.
Ovtcharov refrained from framing the upcoming match as a redemption for his narrow loss in Tokyo, instead saying, “Each match writes its own narrative, irrespective of what we know about our adversary. And his capabilities appear boundless.”
To him, every game is a fresh start, a new chance to shift the narrative, especially on home turf.
The sting of defeat in Tokyo lingers, with Ovtcharov expressing, “That loss was the most painful, as it may have been one of the finest matches in the history of table tennis.”
Yet, he views the Frankfurt tournament as a mere stepping stone on his journey to the Paris 2024 Olympics, where he remains optimistic about securing one of the two German slots in the men’s singles competition.
“It’s not about merely participating; my ambition is to compete with distinction at the Olympics,” he asserted.