Three men and one woman will represent greek table tennis at the Alicante at the 2018 LIEBHERR ITTF European championships: Panagiotis GIONIS, Kallinikos KREANGA, Ioannis SGOUROPOULOS and Katerina TOLIOU, who will be coached by Kostas VATSAKLIS. It is a very strong composition who gives Greece a hope for the place at the medal rostrum.
KRENGA will fight again at the European championship 30 years after his debut! It was in 1988 in Paris when at the age of 16 he had his first and last participation as Romania’s player in the competition. He had even managed to get the bronze medal in the double mixed with compatriot Otilia BANDESCU. In the summer of 1989 he moved to Greece and from the 90s to the present day he represented her prodly in the big competitions. At the European championships he has won a total of 11 medals as Greek athlete in all the events and his most important moments were in 2002 in Zagreb whe he won silver, double’s men gold with Zoran KALINIC in 1994 in Birmingham and gold in double mixed with Badescu in 1992 in Stuttgart. The last medal he clinched it to the not-too-distant 2013 (silver in the teams) and at 46 years he is still prominent figure on the international stage.
»I am happy to last very long. I think the physical qualities and the good life have helped me a lot to stay at a high level at this age. The soul counts, of course, even though it has been ruining me in the last few years», KREANGA says with a smile.
In general, Greece goes to Spain with three athletes who have medals in European championships in their tresyry. In addition to the unsurpassed KREANGA, GIONIS has won two medals since 2013 at Swechat and SGOUROPOULOS clinched two gold at the European Youth Championship in 2016 in Guimaraes and in 2017 in Cluj Napoca.
«It’s an element that makes us competitive. It underlies our psychology and shows the respect and recognition we receive from our opponents», said Kostas VATSAKLIS, who spoke of high goals in this European championship as well. «We are also looking to win a medal this year because we have GIONIS, one of the top athletes in Europe, and the two-time European champion in the simple young SGOUROPOULOS, whose style of play is dangerous for all opponents. Beyond that Kallinikos, with its huge distinctions in the institution, still has a great appetite. He may have some years, but I believe he will be threat to all opponents. Finally, Katerina is in good shape and she has a very positive psychology after her outstanding appearances in the Summer Games of the Mediterranean. This year we have set up well doubles. Panagiotis and Gianniswill play. I want to say with that we aim for the medal in all three events».
In the men’s doubles Gionis will work again with the Slovakian Wang Yang, who in 2016 had reached positions 5-8. Sgouropoulos will play with another Slovakian, Lubomir Pistei, while in the women’s doubles Toliou is pairing with Moldovan champion Katerina Gibrik.
The mixed doubles will be joined by Gionis and Toliou and will fight for entry to the quarter finals, which will qualify for the European Games of 2019. In the same event, Sgouropoulos will have Sara De Nude from Luxembourg.