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Jan-Ove Waldner is a Swedish former professional table tennis player, referred to as ”the Mozart of table tennis”,and has received the following medals throughout his career: Olympic Games (1 gold, 1 silver), World Championships (6 gold, 7 silver), World Cups (2 gold, 4 silver) and the European Championships (11 gold, 5 silver). Being a child prodigy, debuting for the club Spårvägens BTK, Waldner rose quickly to stardom, achieving 9 gold and 4 silver medals in the European Youth Championships. In 1992 Waldner achieved a career Grand Slam (World Champion, World Cup winner and Olympic gold medal in singles), being among only five male players in the history of table tennis with the same result. In China, he is respectfully known as 老瓦 Lǎo Wǎ (”Old Waldner”) or 常青树 Cháng Qīng Shù (”Evergreen Tree”) due to his long career, and achievements, for which he received the great honor of being the first living foreigner to be printed on a Chinese stamp in 2013. He is the most successful non-Chinese player in the history of Ping Pong, considered the national sport of China. On February 11th, 2016, Waldner played his final game in the Swedish league, upon which he announced his official retirement, ending a career spanning more than thirty years as an international elite level player, and widely regarded as being one of the greatest table tennis players of all time.
Jan-Ove Waldner on: how he started out with different sports as a child; soccer, tennis, table tennis, early feeling for the ball, how he at the age of six became a member of his club Spårvägen, motto, childhood dream, seriousness, talent, practice, skills, preparations, mental and physical game, tactics, styles, techniques, improving his game, trying out shots, competing, playing finals, compared to chess, butterflies and controlling nerves, challenging factors, China, experiences, the culture, the people, favorite opponent, singular and double, 29 gold medals, the team, height of career and 250 travel days a year, training camps, table tennis and the Olympics, 5 Olympic Games, greatest development, and more.
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On his motto
Breaking through The Great Wall of China
The honor of being printed on a Chinese stamp
His experiences with the Chinese culture
Reading the game, block and split vision
What makes Sweden such a great table tennis nation?
Juicing, and his best serve