Sharara and Samsonov Interview 2014

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Hi, guys!

I have 2 interviews arranged for Sunday in Ljubljana during the ITTF Executive Commitee meeting with Adham Sharara and Vladimir Samsonov so I was just wondering if you have any questions that you would like to ask those two man and maybe I could include them in my set of questions ...

You can read both interviews on the ITTF page so here are the links to it:

- Sharara interview: http://ittf.com/_front_page/ittf_full_story1.asp?ID=34594&Category=General&Competition_ID=&

- Samsonov interview: http://ittf.com/_front_page/ittf_full_story1.asp?ID=34593&Category=General&Competition_ID=&
 
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To Samsonov: What is it like to play against an opponent that is less than half of your age (Fan Zhendong)?
To Mr Shahara: What do you think of all the initiatives by Liu Guoliang and the Chinese National Team to promote table tennis?
 
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Thank you guys! I hope mr Sharara and Samsonov won't cancel the thing at the last moment :)

I will post the transcript here after I get it done :)
 
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To Sharara: Why do you have this urge to add so many new rules to the sport? And why do you keep blaming the Chinese for being to good, why not blame the other nations for not doing a good enough job? It's not China doing well that is the problem, it's the other countries not doing well enough.

To Samsonov: Do you think there has bin too many changes to the sport since 1999?
 
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Sharara: Spin and speed are one of the most attractive thing in table tennis. It is what makes tabletennis unique. Why are ITTF so sure that it is necessary and beneficial to change it? Are there some kinds of probational period and/or fail safe?

This has confused some TT fans for a bit. Is the upcoming ball change for health safety reason, or for chinese dominance reason?

Changing the ball size or other rules are a big deal to sports. We don't see the number of changes we see in table tennis in other sports. What is the objective of all the changes? How have the sports become better than 10 years ago?

The rise in number of subscription seems to be due to the more active upload of ITTF channel, and the rise of social media. Do you think putting more money to improve all the websites (official website, youtube) and hiring in-house highlight maker would be beneficial?

Are there easier ways to change the game to attract popularity rather than changing the ball (i.e. the entire game)?

Samsonov: What do you think about the reduced spin and speed of the game? Do you agree in the change?

What elements do you think make the sports attractive to pro-player and non-pro-player? And how do you think the ITTF can help acheiving that?

How much say do pro-tt-players have on ittf decision making, say the new plastic ball change? (it seems that some pro-player don't see the reason of the upcoming change e.g. http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/table-tennis/22284368)

Thanks
 
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to Sharara: With all this new rules, did you think first in table tennis and table tennis players or the viewers, despite the fact that even with all those rules most of them won't understand the difference between a topspin ou a drive, e.g.? Don't you feel like ITTF should keep all the little things that differenciate this a great sport, such as spin and playing variations? With this rules won't we'll have a sport more like tennis?

And: When will you quit ITTF?
 
Shahara : Why are we not focussing on innovating on television production to make the game attractive and instead trying to slow down the game ?
Samsonov : How do you think the changes are going to affect defensive players , including players like you who depend on touch and block more than other players ?
 
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Hi guys!

You can read both interviews on the ITTF page so here are the links to it:

- Sharara interview: http://ittf.com/_front_page/ittf_full_story1.asp?ID=34594&Category=General&Competition_ID=&

- Samsonov interview: http://ittf.com/_front_page/ittf_full_story1.asp?ID=34593&Category=General&Competition_ID=&

I found both men stunning. Vladi is just such a gentleman and we also talked the day before the interview at the dinner. He really is Roger Federer of table tennis.

And also Adham Sharara is a great man! No matter what many people say about him, his answers are very well put together and thoughtful and by reading this interview I think many of you will realise that he is a wonderful man that loves table tennis and I do believe he is doing everything that he can to help it.

P.S.: I cut out one part of my interview with Vladi where I asked him about Fan Zhendong and what it is to prepare before the match to play this 16 y-o kid who posesses so much power and skills. His initial reply was: 'Well, I don't acctualy see him as a 16 y-o kid' (He played him last year at the German Open) and I immediately jumped in and asked: 'Do you believe he is actually 17 y-o now?'. And he gave me this suspicious look, almost mr. Bean like and a smile and said: 'Well, he looks a bit older to me to tell you the truth, but you can't say.' :)
 
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I would eeally like to know how Samsonov trained to become a pro? Coming from a land like Belarus who hasn't had any pro players before him and then coming in to the world elite already in 1993. I'm really wondering if he trained a lot with Zoran Primorac because they made it to the doubles final in wttc 1995.
 
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I genuinely think that it is better to judge pen and paper than judging personally. I am sure he is a nice guy when you said it, but I don't think it is relevant. What is relevant to me is

(1) Tabletennis as a sport
(2) ITTF role


Samsonov:
"Since 2011 we have received some samples of plastic balls for testing. I think the introduction of new ball will be quite a big change for table tennis. There will probably be less rotation, less spin. We still haven’t received the balls that are ITTF approved so we will have to wait to acquire the real feel of the ball. My information is that the game will probably become slower. "

--> slower game (which could be good, possibly)

The problem I see, there are still no approved ITTF ball for EVEN the players within the committee to test it out. without appropriate testing --> launching in July. i mean wt the? the fate of the sports on the hands of policy makers like this.

"Slowing the game down I think is a good thing in theory especially for spectators and television audiences. The introduction of the 40mm ball was a very big change. The problem at that time was that the weight of the ball had to stay the same and I think that the quality of the 40mm ball wasn’t as good as with the 38mm balls. "

40 -> 38 is a "very big change"

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Sharara:
"I don’t think that new balls will change table tennis drastically. I asked many players and coaches about their opinions and they all have different opinion but in my opinion probably the change will be similar to the one when we changed from 38mm to 40mm ball. "

--> 40->38, so according to Samsonov, very big change, but were they trying to make it sound like it's not a big changes a few months/years ago. What is the objective

"Players were not adjusted. In practice players adjust very quickly but when it comes to matches automatic reactions will no doubt be the cause of many mistakes. I think the same will happen now because this ball is smoother and will have less spin; when the ball touches the table the friction will be less.

Also the plastic ball is also a little harder and faster so the game will be a little faster with less spin but I don’t know how that will look like compared to today; it could be good or it could be bad but we have no choice because this celluloid material is no longer available for several reasons. "

A LITTLE FASTER!? (not commenting whether it's good or bad) But it just sounds like the TT industry is diving into something without knowing what's gonna happen, and according to Sharara, "we have no choice" (could be true).
Samsonov thinks it's slower, reports say it's slower, now it could be faster. I am just disappointed, that TT is changing without getting these balls tested out, and be certain. I really am just sad how policies are made and implemented here. Even Samsonov and Sharara are saying different things.

***************************************************************************************


"We will need the help from Chinese. They have already started with some initiatives but not enough I believe. They will really have to open the door to their national team training and national coaches. I think eventually this will happen. At the moment I think the Chinese are struggling finding the right way to help. They are using their own thinking, their culture and their mentality which sometimes doesn’t work in other areas, so I am trying to advise them but of course it is difficult because they have their own ideas. "

Another point. Sharara keeps emphasizing in several interviews that the chinese are not helping enough. In my opinion, the skills and knowledge can be viewed as properties, and the Chinese has the right to not share, but I think Sharara is taking for granted. The chinese wants to promote the sports, they share, it's good for all of us, but they have the right to choose. It was not unfair. He didn't say that it's unfair, but I really am not on his side on his mentality.

I think ITTF's role is to provide a healthy and fair environment. Right now it seems that the plan is, someone other than CHN wins OG and WTTC, then the sports can climb up to the top. PASSION and INTEREST takes years, and a WTTC winner takes years to nourish. I think ITTF should focus a lot more on social media, hire more people. give more resources, and then the children would love the sports more. Rather than forcing rule changes and etc.

It's like capitalism. If you have to share the skills you have, why would you innovate as much. Let other people do it. Sharara seems to want everyone to have similar skills (everyone learning from FZD) similar equipments, similar facilities. So it would be pure chance who win the WTTC, and that's fair. The people work harder gets the rewards. This will progress the sports. like the TT did last decade.

Chinese dominance is bad, but it is fair, and they are playing really pretty table tennis imo. It is genuinely fun to watch.


 
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