BOLL (GER) surprises himself with gold as NI (LUX) books berth in Tokyo at 55
June 26  23:55

MINSK - Seven-time European champion Timo BOLL (GER) won the men's singles table tennis title, beating surprise package Jonathan GROTH (DEN) 4-2 in the gold medal match at the Tennis Olympic Centre on Wednesday.

The Dane established a 2-1 lead before the 38-year-old German superstar took over to claim his first European Games title and confirm his status as the continent's No.1.

"I really have fun playing. I really enjoy having a chance to play at such a high level, and at this age," BOLL said.

"I have had some tough injuries and I thought it would be tough to come back to the top level. But somehow I managed and I'm even surprised myself. It's a good feeling."

GROTH, who created an upset by eliminating defending champion Dimitrij OVTCHAROV (GER) in the fourth round, praised BOLL's ability to adjust his tactics and turn the match around.

"His knowledge of table tennis is absolutely insane. How he's thinking and decisions he makes during crucial moments," GROTH said. "I played a very good game but, of course, it's Timo BOLL, so what can you do?"

In the women's gold medal match, FU Yu (POR) beat HAN Ying (GER) 4-2 to win her first European title, aged 40.

Perhaps the happiest of the singles tournament's six medallists, who all earned a berth at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, was 55-year-old NI Xia Lian (LUX). The veteran will be 57 years old when she competes at her fifth Olympic Games next year. She secured her place by beating YANG Xiaoxin (MON) in the match for third place.

"It's wonderful, I feel like I've been born again," NI said. "I cannot believe it. YANG played better and better. When she made 8-7 from 8-2 [in the last set] said to myself 'go' and ended the game. That was the most exciting moment in my life."

Germany has won two gold medals and a silver across three tournaments at Minsk 2019 and are seeded No.1 in the men's and women's team tournaments as the chase for places on the last two podiums starts on Thursday.

GNS pl/tc