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German trio pin hopes in Beijing for Olympic table tennis gold
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19:50, August 10, 2008

Second-seeded Germany dreams on here for a first ever Olympic medal of table tennis, as the highly-rated trio found themselves even more rooted after Sunday's training at the Peking University Gymnasium.

Following a special team ranking taking into consideration only the players qualified from each team, the German men's team has been seeded the second and drawn into Group B with Singapore, Croatia and Canada.

"It's great that we are seeded second, which means we will not meet China for a while," commented Dimitrij Ovtcharov here Sunday after the training in the PUG main hall, the field of play for the Olympic table tennis tourney slated on Aug. 13-23.

Ovtcharov has been attending his first Olympic Games, and seemed in good mood here after making his name to world table tennis two months ago by beating world No. 3 Wang Liqin and compatriot Timo Boll at the ITTF ProTour in South Korea.

"We are all in our best form. We hope to win a medal, maybe even Gold," said the teenage sensation, who turns 20 years old early next month. In the past 18 months, Ovtcharov has improved his world rankings to the 14th position.

The boosted confidence has been responded by the established Boll, having long been regarded the leader to European table tennis.

"I'm in quite good shape and I hope I can challenge the Chinese," said the 27-year-old, posing the biggest threat to the daunt in Chinese paddlers who have won nearly everything in the last four years since Athens.

Boll is currently ranked world No. 6 following the Chinese quartet of Wang Hao, Ma Lin, Ma Long and Wang Liqin, as well as Vladimir Samsonov from Belarus. He and Christian Suss won the men's doubles silver medal at the world championships three years ago in Shanghai.

"Well, it (winning the silver) is not so important for me. Yes, it surely gives us confidence and more experience. I think it's better if we get one more in this Olympics," said Suss. "Boll gives me many chances to attack. He is a really nice guy and a lot of fun."

The German trio Sunday practised the doulbes, however, with Suss pairing Ovtcharov, since the newly introduced team event plays a format on the cost of the doubles for the first time in Olympic history and a team will benefit from the flexibility of doubles partnership.

On whether the Chinese will hold advantage of playing home, Boll kept in doubts.

"It depends on each individual player," he said. "It may be an advantage for me because they will be under so much pressure. It can also be a disadvantage as they are too motivated, since, you know, they will be big heroes if they win here."


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