MINSK, 8 July (BelTA) - The legend of Belarusian and world table tennis Vladimir Samsonov announced his retirement from sport, BelTA learned from the website of the Belarusian Table Tennis Federation.
The 45-year-old is currently 29th in the world rankings. Unfortunately, he had to withdraw from his seventh Olympics in Tokyo due to injury.
Vladimir Samsonov attended the Dinamo sport school that his father Viktor Vladimirovich took him to in 1983. Successes were not long in coming. At 11 he fulfilled the USSR master of sport requirements , and at 16 he won a bronze medal of the USSR men's championship.
He picked up his first medal at the European Men's Championships in doubles with German Christian Dreher in 1994. In 1993, when he was only 17, he surprised many professionals by making it to the 1/8 singles at the World Championships in Gothenburg, Sweden. Just two years later in China's Tianjin, Vladimir Samsonov teamed up with Croat Zoran Primorac to claim a silver medal of the world championships. From then on his career was on the ascending. Six-time European champion, three-time World Cup winner, 10-time European Champions League champion among club teams... He won the ITTF Pro Tour and World Tour 29 times, topped the world rankings for two years in a row (1998-2000), 20 years in a row was in the top 10.
With all his great achievements and huge popularity, Vladimir Samsonov has always been a humble man and a "gentleman in sport", for which he was awarded the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Fair Play award in 2005.
Unfortunately, the Belarusian fell short of an Olympic medal. Many remember his courageous act at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, where he decided to continue the quarterfinal match against Germany's Dimitrij Ovtcharov with a broken rib and won it. He failed to win the semifinals and the third place game. The country recognized this achievement and honored Vladimir with the Order of Honor.
In 2020, Vladimir Samsonov was elected one of the vice presidents of the European Table Tennis Union. Prior to that, he headed the Athletes' Commission of the International Table Tennis Federation for seven years.