Persson bidding for table tennis medal

Former world champion Jörgen Persson has not ruled out challenging for an Olympic medal at the age of 46 after scoring a notable first round victory in the men's singles on Saturday.

Persson bidding for table tennis medal

The wire-slim Swede has played in all seven Olympics of which table tennis has been a part and began his last Games with a four games to one victory over Segun Toriola, the former Commonwealth champion from Nigeria.

“I was calm and confident, and this will be my last chance,” said a smiling Persson after his 11-8, 11-7, 12-10, 9-11, 11-5 win over an opponent who until recently had been the best player in Africa for an entire decade.

“The Chinese are very good but stopping them is not impossible. They have only two players in this event now (because of a rule change) and not three which will put more pressure on them.

“Timo Boll (the former world number one from Germany) can do it, and maybe Michael Maze (the former European champion from Denmark) can do it too.”

Asked if he could do it Persson hesitated, and then declined to rule it out, saying he still remembered the pain of losing in the semi-finals in both Beijing in 2008 and Sydney in 2000.

“I am feeling strong and I read the game better than I used to,” he said.

“And I think I am a more complete player than I was in Beijing. The game is much more powerful now than it was, so I have to be. And I am still in, so you never know.”

Persson’s game was also notable for being stronger on the backhand side than he was in his more forehand-dominated halcyon days.

This enabled him to be more economical when covering the court and multiplied his tactical options.

Happily for the veteran, there was little sign of the calf injury which seemed to have become a problem in training two weeks ago.

“He is one of the most dedicated players to his job,” said Ulf Carlsson, the Swedish coach.

“He is in many ways unique. He has adapted cleverly to the modern game which is heavier and quicker.”

But asked if the Chinese could be stopped, Carlsson seemed less sure.

“They will still be very difficult to beat, even with only two players,” he said. “But of course it is possible.”

Persson on Sunday plays Andrej Gacina, the world number 58 from Croatia.

Boll starts on Monday against an opponent yet to be decided, while Zhang Jike, the top-seeded world champion, and Wang Hao, the second seeded Olympic silver medallist also begin their bids.

The other two leading Chinese players, Ding Ning, top-seeded world number one, and Li Xiaoxia, the second-seeded former world number one, start in the third round of the women’s singles on Sunday.

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MAP: Here is where events will be held for 2024 Paris Olympics

Organisers of the Paris Olympics have released a new list of venues for events in the 2024 games - including one 15,000km away from Paris.

MAP: Here is where events will be held for 2024 Paris Olympics
Photo: AFP

The revised map of venues still needs to be approved by the board of directors on December 17th, but is expected to remain unchanged.

Faced with the financial crisis caused by the pandemic and lockdowns, the Paris committee has come up with a revised venue list which its says will save €150 million by scrapping two building projects and amalgamating other events into the same venue.

The big loser is the département of Seine-Saint-Denis north of Paris, which was to get two new temporary sites for aquatic events and volleyball.

However the area keeps the Olympic Village for athletes, while the opening ceremony and athletics events will be at Stade de France in the area.


Here is a high-res version of the above map, and here is an overview of the revised map of events;

Lille – The handball events, previously planned for Paris, will be held at the Pierre-Mauroy stadium in Lille in northern France.

Marseille – the southern city of Marseille will hold sailing events

Tahiti – will host surfing. The island of Tahiti is part of French Polynesia, one of France's overseas territories, which makes it technically part of France, despite being 15,000km away from Paris.

Versailles – The site of one of the world's most famous royal palaces is only about 20km outside Paris and will host equestrian events and the modern pentathlon.

Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines – the Vélodrome nationale in the town of Saint-Quentin, about 25km outside Paris, will host the track cycling events, while golf will be held in the same town.

Elancourt – the town of Elancourt, about 30km from Paris, will hold the mountain bike events, while nearby Trappes will host the BMX bike events.

Vaires-sur-Marne – the commune about 25km east of Paris will host canoeing and kayaking at the Stade nautique.


But unsurprisingly for a Paris Olympics, most events are in or around the city. Here's an overview of the bigger events.

Stade de France – France's 81,000-seater national stadium in the suburb of Seine-Saint-Denis north of Paris will host the opening ceremony, followed by athletics and rugby.

Seine-Saint-Denis is one of France's poorest départements, and the Olympics had been envisaged as a major regeneration project for the area. In spite of the loss of two venues in the cost-cutting programme, there is still plenty happened in the northern area.

Diving, synchronised swimming and water polo will all be held in the Aquatics Centre.

Olympic Village – the athletes will stay in purpose-build accommodation in Saint-Denis which afterwards will be available as housing for local people.

Shooting, climbing and the media centre will be hosted in Le Bourget, Seine-Saint-Denis.

Hockey – will be held in Colombes, in the Hauts-de-Seine département to the west of the city.

Moving within the city boundaries there are 12 locations that will be used for Olympic events.

Swimming – will be at the La Défense Arena in western Paris. A multi-function arena, it is the home of Stade Français rugby club, while also hosting multiple sports events and being used as a music venue in the evening.

Tennis and boxing – Roland Garros – home of the French Open – will naturally host tennis events, as well as boxing.

Table-tennis, weight-lifting, volleyball and basketball – the Parc des Expositions will host these events and the preliminary matches of the basketball events.

Gymnastics and basketball – the Accor Arena hosts the finals of the basketball, as well as gymnastics events.

Football – Parc des Princes, home of Paris-Saint-Germain, will host the football.

Badminton, rhythmic gymnastics – the La Chapelle arena hosts rhythmic gymnastics events, plus badminton.

But the Paris committee is also keen to use non-sporting venues to host events, including plenty of outdoor venues, to really integrate the games into the daily life of the city.

Taekwondo and fencing – the beautiful and historic Grand Palais, which usually operates as a museum, will host fencing and taekwondo.

Cycling – some cycle events will finish along the Champs-Elysée, as the Tour de France does.

Urban sports – this year's new events, including breakdancing, and other urban sports will be held in the Place de la Concorde

Archery – will be held at Invalides, a historic landmark begun in 1690 on the orders of Louis XIV for injured soldiers.

Wrestling, judo and beach-volleyball – will be held on the Champs-de-Mars, next to the Eiffel Tower.

Cycling, walking racing, marathon, triathlon and open-water swimming – these will all be held partially on (or underneath in the case of the swimming) the Pont d'Iéna over the River Seine in central Paris. 

The games run from July 26th to August 11th, 2024, followed by the Paralympic Games from August 28th to  September 8th, 2024.