This user has no status.
This user has no status.
Well-Known Member
Oct 2010
TableTennisDaily exclusive interview with Friedhard Teuffel who is the author of Timo Boll's book, "My China - A journey to the wonderland of table tennis". Thanks to TableTennisDaily member Chris Peruth for getting in contact with Friedhard. Thank you for all the questions we received from you all in January 2012.

For some translations of the book click here


Timo Boll (left) and Friedhard Teuffel (right)


1) When did you find an interest for table tennis?

My two cousins played table tennis in the basement and one day I had a go, I was 8 or 9. There my passion began. The continuous reaction, the ways and options you have in the sport, trilled me and I couldn't avoid the game. At home I started playing on an old kitchen table with some juice boxes for the net.

2) Do you play table tennis and where?

When I was 10 I joined my first club. And today I play in the club CFC Hertha 06, a club in Berlin. At the moment I´m playing in the sixth devision. I like it.

3) Did you know Timo Boll as a person before you followed his journey in China?

I followed Timo Boll for a few years as a journalist. We sometimes met and talked a little bit and I think we had good rapport / connection to each other.

4) What other books have you written?

This was my first book I had written. Before I wrote some chapters for other books.

5) Will you be releasing the book in English or Chinese?

At the moment our publisher deals are with a chinese publisher, to bring out a chinese translation, but the book market in Europe and China are very different.

6) Are you still in contact with Timo Boll?

We regulary call each other and are happy, we met recently back in march at the German Championships, Timo came to Berlin, although he didnt play because of his injury. On the Friday before the event started, Timo and I had a reading for his book. We talked about China and looked at a lot of pictures. After that we both played a doubles match - Timo played with his right hand, because of his shoulder injury, but his topspin with right is still very powerful, too!

7) What do you think about the planned Chinese table tennis academy in Europe?

Well, the Chinese have to do something, before they win table tennis to its death. Maybe its a good approach. This would help young European players understand the game better, and the Chinese coaches can teach the European coaches and players new methods of training.

8) Who is your favorite player?

In the past I've always enjoyed watching Erik Lindh, who played so dynamic. From the Chinese, Kong Linghui I liked best, his incredibly clean technique, in addition he always had a fine face.

Questions on Timo Boll and your journey in China:

9) What is Timo Boll like as a person? Did you learn a lot from him?

Timo is incredibly modest and reserved, and has a really good sense of humor. We have had hours of conversations but the first impression I had of him was just confirmed again and again. Timo is not acting, he lives a happy life.

10) What was your accommodation like?

In Beijing we stayed in a 4/5-star hotel which was very pleasant. Asian hotels are usually a bit fine anyway. A good place to come down.

11) Were you excited when you interviewed the European and Chinese stars? What does it feels like?

Not exited. In addition I am also a sports journalist for a long time now and I have met many athletes and questioned them, to be exited. Top athletes are normal people. Table tennis players make it a very easy to feel comfortable, just as European players, Timo Boll, Vladimir Samsonov and Werner Schlager. These are simply very pleasant, intelligent and affable personalities. I was also really impressed with how much respect European players treat one another.

12) Did you get to meet all the famous Chinese table tennis players? Have you got some autographs?

I met Kong Linghui at the training center of the Chinese National team in Beijing. Of course that was a highlight of our trip, a visit to the inner sanctum of table tennis. i didnt asked for an autograph. An hour with Kong Linghui means more to me.


Photo by:

13) How are the chinese players behind the camera?

Really smart. Kong Linghui was relatively open, I believe, he has also spent a lot time in other countries, which has affected him. Other players such as Zhang Jike are often very withdrawn and quite. I think it takes some time before they open. At the end their career, however Ma Lin was talkative for example.

14) Did you talked to the other players? who was the nicest guy?

Vladimir Samsonov and Werner Schlager are very sympathetic, each in his own way Vladimir is more gentle and polite, but still tells a lot. Werner is a table tennis-philosopher, which makes the conversation with him so exciting. He can break down the game in every detail, but also consider it from a bird's eye view from above.

15) Did Timo Boll train every day in China? What was the regular schedule?

When timo stayed in China to play in the super league, he trained every day. However on our journey he was relaxed and saved his power for the evening competition. So we made some trips. for example we visited the Shichahai school, who bought some real top players, like Wang Tao, Zhang Yining and Ma Long.

16) Did you see the next ma long when you visited China?

It was amazing how strong these nine-to fifteen-year-old players were. They were really disciplined, but they all still had fun playing, that was our impression. I would like to see them in a few years and then compare the photos i took, with the faces of the Chinese national team. Maybe one of them will get a spot in the National team.

17) Why are the Chinese so good at table tennis? Did you learn anything in particular that you realised separated the Chinese from the rest of the World?

China's success has many reasons. It begins when they start very early and train very hard and focused. This gives them an edge that most Europeans can never catch up. Also everything is analyzed, filmed, scored. They leave nothing to chance. Table tennis is also still a tool for social advancement in China. And what Timo says again and again: The players I train with here in China every day are against five players from the top ten in the world rankings, easily trained on a different level than everyone else. This is the difference in quality of practice.

18) Did you have the chance to play with Timo a bit?
Yes. when you see Timo playing, you know, that is game is based on rotation. But you cannot image how much spin he can generate on the ball. He played some relaxed backhands against me and I couldn't control the ball.

19) Do you like China? Would you like to travel there once again?

China is incredibly hospitable to foreigners and the Chinese are very warmly. It was a great experience and a lot of fun. I hope that I will soon once again go to China.

20) What does Timo like more? the quiet life in Germany or being a star in China?

I think the quiet life in the Odenwald Timo likes best. But I think it's perfect for the variety.

21) Did you have a translator there? or are the Chinese able to speak good English or is Boll's Chinese that good, to manage everything?

We had, as always, a personal tutor. Who took care of everything and tried to fulfill every request. With english you can cope in China., but Timo's Chinese is enough in any case for some small talk, for orders in the restaurant and to get directions.

22) You said that you met Kong Linghui. what did you talk about?

About him, on Timo, on the secrets of Chinese Table Tennis. He said: There is no secret. It was all just early screening and hard work. The conversation with him was a big win, it also fills half a chapter in our book, Kong Linghui is a very polite and patient person

23) Did you and Timo experiment with the food out in China?

We rather followed the usual dishes, especially the Peking duck, we had a sensational one. Timo is also a true gourmet, he knows where the food is good and what needs to be ordered. Experiments with large snakes, frogs and insects this time we did not. but I know that Timo has tried a lot on his visits in china ...

24) Were there any players in the training hall that could beat Timo Boll who we have never seen on the international arena. (China club players for example)

I just saw the women National team, because the men team was playing a tournement. and at the shichhai school the young kids had an extreme hard topspin, but they could not beat Timo.

25) How was Timo Boll’s back injury in China?

Fortunately the team europe had a physiotherapist who took care of Timo. Otherwise, Timo knows himself very well and what to do to save his back because he has a very good body-feeling.

26) Did he use a lot of different treatments every day to manage his back? If so what treatments?

Timo does a lot of exercises and physical therapy and also massages. A visit in the sauna does not harm either of course.

27) Did Timo Boll ever talk about his aims for table tennis?

He only talks about his goals, when you ask him. He thinks from tournament to tournament. The injuries have led him be careful.

28) Were there a lot of Chinese press around you on your stay?

On the first day a press conference was scheduled, the hall was packed, camera crews, radio stations, newspapers and Internet journalists. As the press conference was over, most of them were overthrown to ask Timo to ask a few questions. that shows how popular he is in China.

29) Did a lot of people on the streets of China know who Timo Boll was? How does he manage his popularity?

The first possible contact with a Chinese man was at the official entry at the airport. And he recognized him Timo Boll and it went on and on. Everyone on the street and even people who arent interessted in table tennis look at him, recognized him and are happy. He is one of them and has found his place in China.

30) Did you and Timo Boll come across any difficulties during your stay in China?

Actually, no. If you take it apart, that it was all a bit unorganized and spontaneous. But otherwise: a completely successful trip with many big and small stories about table tennis and the people who play it.

Here is some footage of Timo Boll in the Chinese super league against Zhang Jike

And Lastly:

Do you have new plans? Would you like to work together with Timo a second time?

We will see. I am working on a second edition for the book. The first one was sold quick and good.

Have you ever used :)

Of course, a exciting website with nice stats and videos!

Thanks so much for your time Friedhard Teuffel!

Chris and TableTennisDaily
This user has no status.
This user has no status.
Well-Known Member
May 2011
Amazing! Really interesting interview :D About that topspin from Boll that Teuffel can't control: I heard it more often, I believe Julien Indeherberg talked about it too after he played Boll. It looks like a normal topspin, but there is so much more rotation that the ball just bounces lower than you are used to. When we watch top players play against each other it doesn't look as complicated because they all anticipate so well. Those guys are way better than we can even imagine xD
  • Like
Reactions: Dan
This user has no status.
This user has no status.
Active Member
Nov 2011
Amazing! Really interesting interview :D About that topspin from Boll that Teuffel can't control: I heard it more often, I believe Julien Indeherberg talked about it too after he played Boll. It looks like a normal topspin, but there is so much more rotation that the ball just bounces lower than you are used to. When we watch top players play against each other it doesn't look as complicated because they all anticipate so well. Those guys are way better than we can even imagine xD

yeah and i know, that friedhard played in the 4th devision some years ago. so he is not that untalented :D