Denmark’s Peter Rosenmeier can call himself a Paralympic, world and European champion. But the three-time Paralympian has never been able to defend back-to-back titles. However, he can change that at the 2015 International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) Para-Table Tennis European Championships, which will be held 12-17 October in Vejle, Denmark.
“I and the staff around me have done everything in our power to be ready, and we believe that we are,” Rosenmeier said. “But in top sport, you never know. It is impossible to compare [to the 2013 European Championships]. Two years is a long time. New players, old players that have gained new skills, new environment, new balls — the only thing that hopefully doesn’t differ is my two gold medals.”
Denmark will welcome 282 of the top athletes from 31 countries across Europe. The winners of the men’s and women’s singles events will directly qualify for Rio 2016.
Playing at home
Rosenmeier has had a lengthy and successful career. However, the 31-year-old has never played a major competition in front of a home crowd.
This time, he hopes to feed off their energy, especially when he attempts to face Spain’s No. 1 ranked Alvaro Valera.
“I think it’s great that all the people who follow and support me now have the chance to see it live,” said Rosenmeier, who also owns a gold medal in the men’s singles from Beijing 2008 and bronze from Athens 2004.
“Since it is my first, it is very hard for me to say how it will affect me,” he said. “Normally I love attention and I’m always playing my best at the major tournaments so hopefully I will play my ‘A’ game in Vejle. A lot of focus will be on me. Hopefully I can handle it and thrive under it.”
Ranked No. 2 in the men’s class 6, Rosenmeier captured the European title in 2013. But with qualification slots for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games at stake, competition will be stiffer.
Growing para-table tennis
During the Championships, the Danish Table Tennis Federation will be hosting a major development camp for table tennis prospects in Denmark. Over 100 athletes are expected to attend.
“I think that it is an outstanding opportunity for para-table tennis in Denmark,” Rosenmeier said. “Many of them will see para-table tennis for the first time and experience the high level that surrounds it. That is possibly the most important legacy that para-table tennis will gain from this event. All these youngsters will go back to their clubs, the word will spread, and para-table tennis will be more appreciated by the table tennis players in Denmark.”
A number of other events will also be hosted during the Championships. An open tryout will be held for adults and children, who along with the guidance from a group of talented coaches will be able to try their hand at para-table tennis. A Guinness Book of World Records attempt will also take place from 11-17 October for the world’s longest table tennis match.
For more information on the ITTF Para-Table Tennis European Championships, visit the event website.