Swedish table tennis veteran reaches semis

Swedish table tennis veteran reaches semis
Veteran Swedish table tennis star Jörgen Persson has defeated Croatia's Zoran Primorac to reach the semi-finals of the men's table tennis at the Beijing Olympics.

Persson, 42, and Primorac, 39, who have both competed at every Olympics since the sport was introduced at the 1988 Games, rolled back the years in their quarter-final, putting on a show-stopping performance.

“When you see us at the table, we don’t look that old, we are moving quite well I think,” Persson said of his win 4-1 win over the Croatian.

With the Swedish handball teams and track and field athletes cheering, singing and waving national flags, Persson fought back from one game down against Primorac – who won silver in doubles at the 1988 Seoul Olympics.

The Chinese fans, unaccustomed to watching Europeans play their national game on home soil, took photos of the Swedish supporters and cheered along.

Primorac said age was often an advantage in the sport, with more experienced players able to outsmart their younger challengers.

“It didn’t help against Jörgen because he’s older than me,” smiled Primorac.

“But against the younger players, sure, you have more experience, you know how to play the big matches, you can prepare yourself more tactically, and you don’t get excited when you play the big points.”

Persson, a former world champion who finished fourth in Sydney in 2000, is gunning for his first medal at probably his last Olympics.

The Swede takes on China’s 24-year-old world number one Wang Hao in Saturday’s semi-final. Although the odds are stacked against him, Persson warned he still has a few tricks left.

“They (China) have been winning most tournaments since the Olympics in Athens, but they are beatable, and I will give it a good chance tomorrow.”

AFP/The Local