Saturday, 29 October 2011

Gionis the Greek God of Ping Pong

It was my pleasure to continue interviewing some of the sport's greatest players in Europe this week, one player who had caught my eye at the recent European Championships in Gdansk, Poland was Gionis Panagiotis of Greece. Gionis has a unique style and showed complete class in defeating Bastian Steger, one of Germany's finest players. Gionis was kind enough to do this interview with me, thanks Gionis! 

Name: Gionis Panagiotis
Age: 31
Date of Birth: 07/01/1980
Nation Represented: Greece
Highest World Ranking: 36


Gionis on defence
Image courtesy of ITTF

Equipment Used:
Blade: Butterfly OFF Korbel
FH Rubber: Tenergy 05 2.1
BH Rubber: Feint Long II 1.1


Career

How long have you been playing table tennis for, when and how did you start?
I'm playing since 1989...and I started for fun in a small club near my house.
Who has been the biggest influence on your career so far?
That I really love it by myself!
What does your training schedule for a week period involve?
Monday Wednesday Friday 2 times practise 2.30 hours each and Tuesday Thursday one time 2.30 hours and sometimes weekend!
What is your next big goal for table tennis?
Olympic Games in London
What do you think is the most important thing in table tennis for becoming a successful player on the international stage?
Many hours of practise first and then physical, cleverness and good psychology!
You have an interesting style in that you chop on your backhand and switch between slow return and offensive play on your forehand. What inspired that style for you?
When I was young my coach said that I must be a defender because in attack I was not so good...but this style with attack in forehand I first try it 21 years old because I understood that for making a bigger step in my career I must be more aggressive player so I must attack more to compete with the top players...and I did it!


Why do you think China currently dominate the sport?
Because they start very young and they have very good organisation for this sport. They work a lot for this and the coaches are top.
Do you think Greece has a strong future in European table tennis compared to other nations like France and Germany?
I think in Greece is not so easy like these countries because table tennis is amateur and the children first look to study and then to find the time for table tennis...but the federation and the coaches are trying a lot.
Off the topic Questions
Who's your favourite sportsperson of all time?
Lionel Messi
Favourite food?
Chicken
What do you do when you aren't playing table tennis?
Football on Playstation
Dream Car?
Ferarri
Ideal Holiday Destination?
Exotic Island
First thing you would do if you won $1million?
I buy one very nice house
Your Team Mates

Who's the funniest player in the training hall?
Leuteris Makras
Who trains the hardest in the training hall?
Kalinikos Kreanga
Who has the best nickname?
Tasos Riniotis (peroukas)
And Lastly

Would you like to add one last tip, or an inspirational message for other table tennis players looking to succeed?
That if you want to reach a top level player only the talent is not enough...need a lot of work and many hours of practise!

Gionis defeats Bastian Steger in the Euro Team Quarterfinals

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