I had the fantastic opportunity to interview another amazing player from Europe. It is none other than Tiago Apolonia. My main interest was hearing from him how he was able to cope with a fairly serious operation and still continue on and recover to qualify for his dream, the London Olympics. Thanks for your time Tiago!
Full Name: Tiago Apolonia
Date Of Birth: 28/07/1986
Nation represented: Portugal
Highest World Ranking: 19
Image Courtesy of ITTF
Blade: Tibhar Tiago Apolonia
FH Rubber: Tibhar Evolution
BH Rubber: Tibhar Evolution
How long have you been playing table tennis for, when and how did you start?
I started when I was 5 years old. The big influence for me was my brother João.
Who has been the biggest influence on your career so far?
Difficult to pinpoint just one person. I would say my brother, my parents, coaches, and some team mates which I had until now. All of them of course in different ways.
What's does your training schedule for a week period involve?
It of course depends on different aspects, therefore it's difficult for me to give an exact answer. My coach and physical trainer and, also after my injury, my physiotherapist are working together and organising my weekly plans. Regardless of what the plan is I always work a minimum of twice a day.
What is your next big goal for table tennis?
Honestly I don't focus so much in just one BIG goal. I prefer to set every day or every week, smaller goals. I believe it's the best way to improve and then reach the bigger ones.
What do you think is the most important thing in table tennis for becoming a successful player on the international stage?
It's obviously necessary to be born with this talent, but I think most important is to work as hard as possible and of course you need support from family and coach and club etc.
You represent TTF Leibherr Ochsenhausen in the league in Germany, do you think Germany is the best place in Europe to train presently?
Yes I think Germany is the best place because there the structure is more professional and they do have the best conditions and the best league. Therefore the best training groups reside in Germany.
Let's talk Olympic Games, now you almost didn't make it. Tell us a little about your operation prior to the Olympics and your injury.
Everything happened very fast. I got injured in Qatar in mid-february playing against Chuang Chih-Yuan. Directly I expected the worst because my knee condition was really bad. When I arrived back in Germany my worst expectations were realised. I needed surgery. I was well operated on 1st March then started the countdown until the Olympic Qualification in Luxembourg which started on 11th April.
The time was too short but my olympic dream was too strong to give up directly. I did my best to recover as fast as possible and it was my decision to play in Luxembourg. Although I won many games (more than I expected to in my condition), I was not strong enough to manage the qualification. I had again one more month to prepare myself and especially my knee for the world olympic qualification in Qatar (exact same playing hall where I was injured :S).
This time I managed the qualification and won the tournament. Fortunately I had already many good and special moments in table tennis, but the feeling after the last point of the final was probably the best moment in my career so far.
How do you rate Ochsenhausen's chances in the Bundesliga with Ryu Seung Min now in the team?We are doing well so far in the Bundesliga. Qualifying for the playoff is our main and first goal for this season and we are on a very good way. Now we need to continue our way, step by step. In the end I believe our team is strong enough to beat any other team.
How is Ryu settling in to the team?
Ryu is a fantastic player and a very good person. Therefore he is very nice and is good to have as a teammate.
Off the Topic Questions
Who’s your favourite sportsperson of all time?
Difficult to say just one...hmm, Jose Mourinho
Portugese and Italian
What do you do when you aren't playing table tennis?
Internet, Playstation, Watch Movies
I am not as expert as most of the boys, but Audi R8 is my favourite
Ideal holiday destination?Places with nice weather, good food and nice beaches...I must say one country. Portugal ;)
Would you like to add one last tip, or an inspirational message for other table tennis players looking to succeed?
Try and always learn the best things from every experience you get. Enjoy every moment in the training and playing hall and always give it your best.