“Ping Pong with My Heart” sounded around the Westfallenhallen on the afternoon of Sunday 25th March 2012; the powerful voice of Paulini once again captivated table tennis enthusiasts on what proved a special day, a day from which the sport can take great heart, a day the German crowd gave heart and soul.
During the afternoon session the stadium was almost full to capacity as some 5,000 spectators visited the history making event.
The final count teams competing in the eight day event has set new standards.
A total of 118 men’s teams and 91 women’s teams are present.
It was a fact noted at the Opening Ceremony and a fact of which Ute Schäfer, the North-Rhine Westphalian Minister of Family, Children, Youth, Culture and Sport, was justly proud.
Understandably, the organizers are highly satisfied with the opening day of the LIEBHERR 2012 World Team Championships.
“The biggest indoor sports event of the world has broken records, never before have so many nations being represented”, she said. “Dortmund is an ideal location, the State, the Ruhr Area and Dortmund are hospitable, open-minded, sports enthusiasts and famous for their organization ability; the objective is now to make the tournament a once in lifetime event for the active players, for the leaders and the public.”
Looking to the Future
Furthermore, Ute Schäfer looked to the future.
“This international table tennis highlight should also have a long-term effect”, she added. “We hope to recruit many new fans for the sport, the North-Rhine Westphalia region already has 1,300 table tennis clubs with around 100,000 members.”
Thoughts for future but Ute Schäfer was very much in the present and was very much hoping for German success.
“The Westfalenhallen’s wonderful atmosphere is world renowned”, she added. “I hope that the euphoria at these home World Championships and the special feeling derived from appearing in front of your own public will give the players extra motivation and inspiration. I am crossing my fingers for them.”
Equally, Sabine Loos, Chief Executive Officer of Westfallenhallen was in a similar positive mood, delighted with the attention the media was affording.
“We have 454 media representatives from 31 countries”, she said. “Noticeable is the transmission time, especially that of Japan and China; these LIEBHERR World Championship are the event of the eear for us, maybe of the decade.”
Positive words from all concerned and Thomas Weikert, the President of the German Table Tennis Association was in a similar buoyant mood.
“Dortmund is undoubtedly the right venue; the German Association expects 50,000 to 60,000 spectators during the 8 days of the tournament; next weekend we will be happy if we have the Westfallenhalle full to capacity”, he said.
Unquestionably, in terms numbers it was a day to remember.
Notably some 1,700 youngsters were present as a result of the “Free Tickets Under 18” promotion by the German Association.
“If results will go well, the hall might be even full on Friday, too,” said Thomas Weikert. “We are grateful thankful to the State of North-Rhine Westphalia and the Westfallenhallen for their support; without them there is no possibility to host these LIEBHERR 2012 World Team Championships”.
Co-operation and Hard Work
Everything has been made possible; made possible through co-operation and hard work, a fact of which Adham Sharara, ITTF President, was well aware at the Opening Ceremony.
“I would like to thank the German Association and all the volunteers who have organised the biggest indoor sports event in our history”, he said. “I particularly would like to thank our sponsors, especially the title sponsor LIEBHERR, our major sponsors China Unicom and ARAG; also the official timer for the first time joining the ITTF family: Tissot and definitely our family members, the equipment sponsors: Butterfly, DHS and Gerflor.”
It is a true team effort.
Stronger than Ever
“Without their contribution, I can ensure you that this World Championship will not be possible”, concluded Adham Sharara.
Possible and judging by the first day reaction in Dortmund, the competition is as strong as ever and so is the sport of table tennis.