Dimitrij Ovtcharov's big interview for the Rio Olympics 2016!

This user has no status.
Prior to the Rio Olympics Dimitrij Ovtcharov was interviewed by spox.com a popular website in Germany. I have done my best to translate the interview below. You can find the original interview here.


"In Beijing everything was amazing"

In London the single bronze was a sensation. Meanwhile, table tennis ace Dimitrij Ovtcharov has established himself as China's number 1 rival. In the interview, he talkes about the duels with the overpowering superstars, explains his position to the exclusion of his Russian club mates and how society values his sport.

SPOX: Mr. Ovtcharov, your family comes from the former USSR, also you are playing for the top club Fakel Orenburg in the Russian league and the Champions League. What opinion do you have with this background to the debate on the exclusion of Russian athletes at the Olympic Games in Rio?

Dimitrij Ovtcharov: During my last visit in Russia this was discussed a lot, since it was mainly about the decision for or against the track and field athletes. In my sport doping plays a subordinate role and therefore I have a different perspektiv on the subject. But if athletes can be detected with respect to doping or they were even involved in a system and thus have violated the sporting ethics, then they should be excluded form Olympia and must be severely punished and locked.

SPOX: What do you think about a general exclusion of all Russian athletes?

Ovtcharov: I didn t like this approch from the start. I know the Russian table tennis boys and I become acquainted with them for the past few years, I can t imagine doping in table tennis. These athletes always respected Olympic values , destroying thier dream because of this would be devestating. They worked really hard for many years to be able to go to Olympia.

SPOX: How often are you in Russia?

Ovtcharov: I live and train in Dusseldorf. Eight times a year I'm in Russia, mainly in Orenburg. There I play home games in the Champions League. The Russian league meets for collecting game days, in Moscow and St. Petersburg - or Yekaterinburg. The playoffs take place in those citys to.

SPOX: You have reached and the won the playoffs several times, as well as the Champions League. How do you experience the table tennis mentality in Russia?

Ovtcharov: 600,000 people live in Orenburg and we are the number one sport, although now the footballers have ascended to the first division. The interest in table tennis is very, very high. Therefore, a large table tennis center opened years ago already. There hundreds of children train under great conditions to ensure good structures down to the professional sector - disabled sports is integrated there to. Orenburg developed to a table tennis stronghold, the hype is real. Another reason why we have a great home record.

SPOX: Even though you're only 27, you have already played for other European top clubs like Borussia Dusseldorf or Royal Villette Charleroi in Belgium. How do they compare to Orenburg?

Ovtcharov: Borussia and Charleroi are the most successful clubs in European history. but Orenburg is very special. A really professional environment, with doctors, physiotherapists, the management, with awesome organization, which otherwise usually only exist in football. That is the reason why it is really fun to play here. Players and the team around the team are a very close unit.

SPOX: And yet, table tennis professionals define themself more as individual athletes. The Chinese are the ne plus ultra. Why are the chinese so much better?

Ovtcharov: Table tennis in China has a similar status as football in Germany. The know-how of the Chinese about our sport is incredibly high. There is almost unlimited state support from the beginning. There are so many kids distributed throughout the country with highly trained coaches and sparring partners to train with. The training scope are very high at an early age while in europe the emphasis is placed on the school career. The professional sports begins in Germany actually often only really with 18. At this point in time, the Chinese are ahead so much that it sometimes seems as if they practice a completely different sport.

SPOX: That sounds like you have no chance. How can you still keep up, as you have already proven many times in the past?

Ovtcharov: I'm very fortunate that I was able to work very early very professional with my father, who has been an international player for the USSR. Timo Boll also was early challenged and encouraged by his former coach Helmut Hampel. Which is why we have a chance. If you want to succeed against the Chinese, you have to start early and be trained by good coaches. Since I had tremendous help from my father. Without him it would have been impossible .

SPOX: These are now your third Olympic Games.What is your goal in Rio after the team silver and singles bronze Medal?

Ovtcharov: When I am able to show my best table tennis , I can get very far. The goal must be to get the chance to play against the Chinese – in the team and singles event. Since only two ahtlets per nation are allowed to participate in the singles event and I will be the first non-Chinese with world ranking position five. In the competition I am ranked 3rd, so proably I have to play against one of them in the semifinals.

SPOX: Do you think you can beat the extroverted Olympic Champion Zhang Jike?

Ovtcharov: I defeated Zhang in the last duel in February, so I feel the pressure, but I feel confident in a possible duel with him. The goal is to win a medal in both competitions - but so do a lot of athletes. Favorite for gold is China's number one Ma Long, who is also the current world champion. In end it will be important to make the right decisions at the crucial moment. Everybody worked really hard in preparation for this competition.

SPOX: Ma Long is the unquestioned number 1 in the world rankings. Although you have never been able to defeated him, you never give up and act convinced that you can keep up with him. How to beat the best player in the world?

Ovtcharov: Well, I am continuously in the top 5 of the world rankings for the past two or three years , I have beaten Zhang Jike several times- Ma Long not, that's true. The most important thing in life and in sport is to always believe in yourself. That is the alpha and omega, and then everything is possible. And even when he is very, very strong: I intensified the work my strengths to force my opponent into my game.

SPOX: Talking about hard work: How was your long- and short-term preparation ?

Ovtcharov: I'm always a bit tense before all the major tournaments. (Laughs) Olympia is again something special, because you want the perfect preparation and I did my best and worked very hard for months.

SPOX:Unfortunately you had problems with a persistent back injury. So you had to cancel the second big goal for the season with the team's World Cup in March on short notice . So not everything went perfectly fine right?

Ovtcharov: The World Team Championships was my first cancellation of a major event for ten years. It was extremely bitter, not being able to help the team. But if I didn t take this break, the irritation in the lumbar region could have been getting worse so that Rio would have been at stake. I was very well treated by our team doctor Antonius Kass in Dusseldorf and then completed a three-week rehabilitation in Paderborn in coordination with doctors in Munich. That helped a lot..

SPOX: How did the injury influence your training for Rio?

Ovtcharov: Off the regular training I am still busy working on the problematic region at the back in order to strengthen these. I committed Simon Martinello a personal athletic trainer who created an individual program for me and I work regularly. Juded by severity of the injury, it could not have gone better so I could do the normal training schedule.

SPOX: So the anticipation of the big event is really high. Can you enjoy the olympic evironment while competing for medals?

Ovtcharov:My first olympics 2008 in Beijing everything was amazing. To experience the village, all the superstars next to you in the canteen, the opening ceremony. Now of course I am experienced and focus a lot more on my goals.

SPOX: Even then you manged to win three medals.

Ovtcharov: (Laughs) The Olympic Games are something quite incredible for athletes. All athletes come together with the same dream and which puts me in a state of mind in which I play particularly well.
Last edited: