Timo Boll Talks About Chinese Table Tennis and More

Timo Boll recently did an interview with Chinese state media on Chinese table tennis and left the door open for a possible return to the Olympics in Paris 2024. A transcript of his responses is provided below.

I played against a log of generations. I played against Kong Linghui, Liu Guoliang, Ma Lin, Wang Liqin, Zhang Jike, Ma Long, now the young guys Wang Chuqin. It’s crazy to look back now most of them, they are coaches.

How do you play against top Chinese players?

You cannot play just one strategy against the Chinese players, because they are smart, they have perfect techniques, so somehow you have to surprise them with every single shot to get them out of balance. It’s not impossible, but it’s difficult.

Ma Lin, he was a tough opponent, he played really smart and somehow “ugly”. His style was very unusual for us Europeans. He found always good strategy against me. I had only two or three wins against him.

Also Fan Zhendong now is difficult for me to play because he plays a little bit the same style like me, but just a bit better and everything, because he’s more powerful and more physically stronger.

What are the differences between Chinese and European table tennis?

European players start a bit later profesionally. In China, a lot of players they practice nearly three times a day when they are eight, nine years old. I think the Chinese stop a little bit earlier, because they develop physical problems earlier. On the one hand, there are not so many strong young players in Europe like in China, we have to admit that.

Why are the Chinese so strong?

Tee main reason I think it’s the perfect sport system for table tennis. It’s a technical sport and you need to start early. You need a technique from the beginning. All of that you can have in China. You can start early, they have good talent-scouting, and they have good coaches already for young players, and they can practice a lot when they are young, hours and hours. These are already a lot of reasons to become a good player.

When they are all good players, they practice often together, that’s also something that helps if you always practice against the best players in the world, you compete and you get better and better and better. And also the young players, they can profit from that.

Are you going to play in the Paris Olympics?

I see a lot of other sportsmen now like Roger Federer who is also 40 and he has a lot of problems, so it’s also hard for him to plan for Paris. He would be happy to go on playing. I did that for all my life, so it would be hard to stop like immediately because of one injury. I hope I will find the right time to stop table tennis, but it’s not now.

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If you are based in the United States, be sure to also check out our exclusive interview with Kanak Jha and celebrate Timo Boll and the rest of Germany with us at the $3K ASLT Oktoberfest in San Diego, California on October 22-24.