“Samsonov may appear among the medallists at the Olympics,” explains the head coach of the Belarusian national squad, Alexander Petkevich. “However, it’s more likely that a medal will be good fortune. We don’t foresee medals for him at the next Olympics — as anticipated since the Atlanta Games in 1996. Sadly, he’s won no Olympic medal so far. In 2000, Samsonov went to the Sydney Olympics topping the world table tennis ratings but the reality is that China leads in modern table tennis, performing as part of their own national team and playing also for other nations. We aren’t one hundred percent sure that Vladimir will claim victory at the Games in London, although he’s ranked among the top eight worldwide at present. His target for the coming year is to keep this result.”
In all, six Belarusian table tennis players are training for the London 2012 event: Vladimir Samsonov and Victoria Pavlovich already have their Olympic tickets while Yevgeny Shchetinin, Vitaly Nekhvedovich, Veronika Pavlovich and Alexandra Privalova continue their struggle to earn places.
At the end of October, Minsk ping pong fans will be able to watch leading world stars at Minsk’s Palace of Sports. The Europe-Asia match (featuring men only) will see the top five players from each continent battling for supremacy, with only one athlete from any single nation performing.