Wednesday 13 January 2016

MHTT Interview with Europe's Table Tennis King: Timo Boll

Timo Boll is known as one of the most gracious and humble sportspeople in the world and after having met him in China, I can vouch for that in it's entirety. Timo is a family man, an excellent and experienced table tennis player and a true gentleman. I hope you enjoy my interview with him!

Full Name: Timo Boll
Date Of Birth: 8th March 1981
Nation Represented: Germany
Highest World Ranking: 1

6 time European Champion, Timo Boll

Equipment Used

Blade: Timo Boll ALC
FH Rubber: Tenergy 05
BH Rubber: Tenergy 05

Your Career

How long have you played table tennis for, when and how did you start?
I started at age of 4 at home with my father.

What has been the highlight of your table tennis career so far?
Becoming world number 1

You have won 6 European Championships Singles Titles, what is your fondest memory from competing over the years at the Euros?
It’s a good feeling if you can handle the pressure and high expectations, especially in the Euros.

I think one of the most interesting things that you mentioned when we were in Chengdu was the strange feeling of having competed with 5 generations of Chinese players (from Ma Wenge through to Fan Zhendong). Which player stands out to you as being the most challenging across the eras and for what reason?
Maybe Ma Lin, he was very clever and he had a lot of tricky shots.

What kind of progression do you see with the Chinese? Do you think their dominance is becoming more apparent over the years? Do you see any sign of hope from other nations to be able to consistently have a chance to beat China in the teams? (including your own team).
As a team its very difficult. As an individual on a perfect day, it should be possible to beat them all.

One of your most outstanding performances was winning the 2005 World Cup where you defeated some incredibly tough opponents from China. What was it on that day that really made you perform at such a high level? Or what preparations prior to the competition made a big difference?
Before the competition I was in a bad shape. I was even thinking about it to cancel the tournament to have a rest. Even in the group stage, I wasn't that strong, but suddenly my run started in the quarterfinal against Wang Liqin! That gave me a lot of self confidence!

How do you feel about your ability to compete with the Chinese players now compared to before? Overall how do you feel about your form going into Rio next year?
Of course I’m physically weaker than 10 years ago, but my technique improved. It will be hard to beat them all again for me, but if I’m standing in the box, I want to win, doesn't matter which opponent.

In terms of your career do you have any concrete plans for after the Rio Olympics?
No plans, I will continue to play.

Timo and teammate Dimitrij Ovtcharov

More recently you have been playing in the China Super League during the break for the German League and ECL. How has that been overall in terms of your playing level, tiredness and family life?
-For the family, it was tough, especially, when I went alone.
-Playing skills improved. I got used to play against the Chinese rubbers
- For the health its not easy, because I didn't get a long break to rest during the summer

One thing we know is that you do not eat the meat when you were in China which I noticed again when we were at the China Open. How difficult is it for you to last that period on such a strict diet? Do you feel it has an effect on your energy levels and ability to perform?
No, its no problem, I try sometimes to live vegan and it has just positive effects. But I’m a meat lover, so it’s hard to stay strict all year long, especially in the summer in Germany, when I do my barbecue.

Do you think the Chinese Super League has given players yourself and your teammate Dima (Ovtcharov), along with Chuang and Joo Se Hyuk, a greater advantage to perform in competition on the world stage in recent years? What are the main differences in being immersed in training and league in Germany and the same in China?
Unfortunately it is a short effect for players on that level, when you come back to Germany, in the beginning the balls of Europeans feel slower and weaker. But after a while, this effect is "puffering"

Do you feel like being left handed has provided its advantages to you over the years? What advice can you give to left handers to help them create an advantage over their opponents?
No, not a big advantage. If you want to be a good player, your style has to be complete.

Your friend and teammate Dima Ovtcharov has reached a peak of 4th in the world rankings so far. What potential do you see/what hope do you have for him to succeed in the future?
Its a great achievement already. I think it will be difficult for him to go much higher in the ranking, especially because of his age. He shouldn't play to many tournaments now in his age, better concentrate on the big events and try to get the chance to win a big one!

Timo's Top 10 Backhands

One intruiging thing about you is your ability to pull off some insane hand switch shots. How did that all start, what's the story behind the hand switches?
I got too slow! Ha

Off the Topic Questions

Who’s your favourite sportsperson of all time?
Hard to say. Jordan, Federer, Nowitzki as a German

Favourite Food?
Chinese Beijing duck

Dream Car

Ideal holiday destination?
Definitely Maldives

First thing you would do if you won $1million?
Save it for my daughter

If you could start table tennis again what style would you prefer? Defense/Penhold/Which Hand/Counter/Blocker/Attacker etc.
I would love to play defense with short pimples on the backhand

And Lastly

Would you like to add one last tip, or an inspirational message for other table tennis players looking to succeed?
Try to have fun in practice, don't take it to serious, but try to be as perfect as you can. To find the right way in between is the key!

Thank you Timo!

Want to read more great interviews with other former World Champions, Cup Winners and Number 1's? Click for MORE INTERVIEWS.


  1. Brilliant work, Matt!
    I very much enjoyed reading this interview.

  2. Fantastic Interview because they are some private insights...
    Refugees Welcome UG

  3. It's incredible how dominant the Chinese are in this sport. What do you think would be the best way overall to compete at that level in this sport?

  4. shoulda asked him about illegal boosting


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