The European Championships will be a litmus test for Persson as a coach. The Swede is confident it will be a repeat of 2002 when Sweden defeated Germany in the final at Zagreb.
Jorgen Persson wants to set certain things right.
The Sweden National men’s table-tennis team head coach in the European Championships, to be held in Malmo (Sweden) from September 10 to 17, feels it’s high time his country clinched gold, one it won way back in 2002 — when he was part of the Swedish team.
Persson is no ordinary paddler. He was a former World champion (1991), ranked World No.1 from 1991-92.
Most importantly, he was known for breaking the Chinese hegemony in World championships as part of the Sweden team that included the likes of Jan-Ove Waldner and Mikael Appelgren.
In the 1989 Worlds, Sweden defeated China in the final, thereby ending its dominance in the tournament, which it had won on four previous occasions. Persson went on to play an important role in the gold-winning Swedish teams at the Worlds on three more occasions – 1991, 1993 and 2000.
But he is not gloating over the past.
For the last fortnight or so, he arranged for a coaching camp with all the players competing in the championships—Truls Moregard, Mattias Falck, Anton Kallberg and Kristian Karlsson—taking part in all earnest, and has only target in mind – to beat the mighty Germany.
“Just like China is the world champion, in Europe, it is Germany. They have been dominating Europe for a long time. But in Malmo, our home ground, it’s the best chance to beat them.
“We also respect France as they have two brothers, Felix and Alexis Lebrun. The whole of Sweden will be looking forward,” Persson said in a Zoom interaction with Sportstar.
“It’s about time [Sweden won the crown]. We have a good team. We last won it 20 years ago. Germany is a strong nation. But we have prepared well,” Mattias Falck, World ranked 20, added.
Persson as a coach
Thomas Buza, Secretary of the Swedish National Table Tennis Association is of the opinion that anything other than a gold in the men’s team event will be a disappointment.
“Anything else than a gold medal for the men’s side, we will not be happy with it. In the women’s team, we have a good team and a good player in Linda Bergstrom. A semifinal finish is possible,” he says.
Speaking on the National Federation’s association with Persson for the last three years, Buza says he is extremely satisfied with the National coach.
“We normally work with our captains in Olympic cycles. So, from 2020-2024 we have an agreement. But we will do everything to keep Persson in our Association and even if he doesn’t want to continue as a captain we can find another position for him for his experience,“ he says.
A “stubborn” person as Persson describes himself, he is quick to admit that in his three years as the coach, he has not succeeded in a great way.
“I’ve had my share of ups and downs. We lost in the semifinals of the 2021 European championships. With the team we had, we should have reached the final.
“We were unlucky in the 2022 World Championships where we lost to China in the quarterfinals. That was a mistake in the draw. We should have protested, but it was late,” says Persson.
“I am hoping to succeed on the home ground (Malmo where the European championships will be held).”
According to Persson, training camps are very important before a big team event as they help forge a team spirit in intense training sessions. In his playing days, the four-time world (team) champion says there was lots of time for camps whereas it is not the case now.
“As a team coach now, it has changed a lot. If we go back in time when I was playing. We had lots more time for training camps. Now, with the schedule, WTT tours and the club [system], it is very difficult for a coach to meet players often.
“The goal when I took over was to have more training camps, but I found out it is not easy. We are trying to meet often,” he says.
Source : Sportstar