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German veteran paddler Boll aiming at Olympic medal in Paris

Xinhua | Updated: 2024-04-18 14:26
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File photo of Timo Boll

BERLIN - German table tennis star Timo Boll, at 43, is not just participating in the upcoming Paris Olympics; he is aiming for a medal.

"I am not going to Paris as a tourist. A medal is my goal," Boll stated in a recent interview with Xinhua. This will be his seventh Olympic appearance, following his selection for the team event in Paris 2024 by the German table tennis association.

Currently, Boll, who won a team silver medal at the Beijing 2008 and Tokyo 2020 Olympics, is on a promotional tour in China as the ambassador for the German Caravaning Industry Association at the ALL IN Caravaning fair in Beijing.

The first German to become the world number one (2003) and a two-time singles Olympic bronze medal winner (2011/2016), Boll described his trip to China as "like coming home," considering China his second home.

"It remains a dream to one day after my career do trips in China with a Caravan. I already saw a lot, but there are so many beautiful spots to explore," he said.

On his seventh Olympics, Boll said, "It's something very special to attend my seventh Games. I performed well over the past months. I qualified in a tight race against my national competitors. The Olympics are too important for athletes and the association to give out presents for a silverback. For me, the first issue is to stay healthy and get in the best shape for the competition."

Regarding his relationship with China, Boll remarked, "To be here is like coming home, as China has become my second home over the years. I know many players and people and have a big fanbase. It's always a pleasure for me to be here or play tournaments in China."

"I visited Xu Xi's table-tennis school and we even played together in a slight training. I am looking forward to meeting other Chinses players as I admire their sportsmanship. Fan Zhendong and Ma Long are one of the greatest. Fan plays a little bit like me, well, maybe on a slightly higher level. Ma has a different style. I hope he can make it to the Olympics."

Talking about his international ranking and career development, Boll said, "I can still beat one of the leading Chinese players with me having a good day and them performing below their peak. I guess I am between 5 and 15 in the ranking. To be around for the Olympics is a motivation booster; I know why I torture myself."

"My body is paying tribute for these many years. You need to change your daily routines, do less table tennis training, and increase athletics. I bought an ice machine to keep muscles cool and one for electrostimulation therapy. I use it every day and it helps cut down recovery times.

"I know this doesn't go on forever. There are times with doubts, and I need patience. At present, I am just thankful to be around for that long. At the start as a professional, I thought about playing until my late 20s and now I am still around playing and having fun. Sometimes it's necessary to spend more time with my family. At present, I can exclude turning into a coach and do the same amount of traveling as right now."

Regarding his Olympic preparations, Boll said, "We have training weeks following tournaments and the other way around right until three to four weeks ahead of the Olympics. The Saudi Smash for instance or the Champions Tournament in Chongqing. After that, the German team and I are getting ready for Paris."

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