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Olympic Games at age 40 'not final chapter', says legend Boll

Xinhua | Updated: 2020-04-22 10:10
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German table tennis legend Timo Boll. [Photo/Xinhua]

BERLIN -- German table tennis legend Timo Boll is determined to appear at the postponed Tokyo Olympics in 2021.

"I've been told that all those qualified this year will be able to compete next year as well. It's very comforting," said the 39-year old 2008 Beijing silver medallist in a recent Xinhua interview.

His goals haven't changed, even though he will turn 40 next March just before the Games. "My goals don't change because of the postponement due to the coronavirus crisis," the 2018 European Champion commented.

Boll talked about his contacts with his Chinese fans, lonely sessions against a robot in times of restricted training, and the challenges of "home training" in combination with having to entertain his daughter.

He talks about home-made masks, the desire to return to tournament and league action, and his online training platform "timoboll-webcoach.com."

The German said he is going to contact former Chinese Super League teammates like Ma Long. "I want to hear how things are for him and his family. If I remember right, they are expecting their second."

He said he has kept a continuous contact with fans in Wuhan and Hongkong. "I just had to tell them they are not alone in hard times. Now, as they are on the way back to normal, it seems the other way around."

He posts news clips "produced in my home 'TV studio" as often as possible.

Boll stressed that he is confident about his future as an athlete as he is still able to perform at a world-class level.

"I've talked to several players that survived longer injury break at an older. I feel prepared for the new challenge. Their comments and experience gave me new confidence," he said after a five-week injury break due to muscle problems.

Boll said he would have loved to have competed at the Olympics this year "as I was in the best shape and expected to perform well." The Tokyo Games will be Boll's sixths.

The 2014 China Open champion said the 2021 Games wouldn't be the final chapter for him. "I'm still excited about table tennis and intend to continue as long as possible."

His club contract with Borussia Duesseldorf runs until 2022, "but I'm considering extending it."

At present, he is taking things as easy as possible to give his body a rest "as things will get back to tight as soon as we are allowed to return to action."

He called the postponement "extremely frustrating" for athletes who intended to retire after the Olympics.

"I'm fortunate as the postponement doesn't affect me that much. Others have to readjust their future plans as they have taken a break from their normal jobs to live their dream of sports for a certain period," stressed the world No. 10.

For him, life as a table-tennis-professional, things just go on, he added.

After brief home training on the backyard table and the new investment of an ergometer, Boll is back to training two or three times a week in a hall after being given permission by local health authorities.

German national coach Joerg Robkopf is at some sessions. "It will take some time to get back to high intensity," he commented, adding until then a table tennis computer of his sponsor Kuka has to do the job.

At present, his six-year-old daughter Zoey Malaya is enjoying her father being at home. "She is missing her friends, of course, and after several weeks, we need to be creative to avoid boredom," the German said, adding "things are work well."

He admitted to having rarely left the house and if he did, he used a home-made mask from his wife Rodelia and disposable gloves.

"For Germans, it might be strange to wear masks as Asian people are much more used to it. But it is necessary to take every precaution."

Even after decades of daily training, Boll admitted he couldn't wait for major tournaments and national league games to start again. "I know we have to wait until August, at least, but I can't wait for regular action. This sport is my desire."

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