Country Profile: Swedish Table Tennis / Svensk Bordtennis

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Perhaps best known for player JO Waldner, Sweden entered the world scene in table tennis in the 1950s with Tage Flisberg. More recent well-known players include Stellan Bengtsson, Ulf Carlsson, Kjell Johansson, Mikael Appelgren, Erik Lindh, Ulf Bengtsson, Jörgen Persson, Peter Karlsson, Marie Svensson, and Åsa Svensson.

Previous Stars

Rankings as of September 2009
J.O. Waldner
Jan-Ove Waldner
World Rank: retired  DOB: 1965
Jörgen Persson
World Rank: 21   DOB 1966
Peter Karlsson
World Rank:   DOB 1969
Asa Svensson
Åsa Svensson
World Rank:   DOB: 1971
Marie Svensson
Marie Svensson
World Rank:   DOB: 1967

Hope for the Future and Outlook

As the Swedish stars who played so well in the 1980s and 1990s age, younger players will have to step up and gain valuable international experience in order to continue the successes before them. Fortunately, with two promising up-and-coming young players, excellent coaching, and a good network of clubs, Sweden's hopes for the future are bright.

Fredrik Håkansson
World Rank: 83
DOB: 1975
Magnus Molin
World Rank:
Jens Lundqvist
World Rank: 52
Peter Nilsson
World Rank:
DOB: 1973
Sandra Johansson
World Rank: 141
DOB: 1981
Susanne Jonsson
World Rank: 177
DOB: 1979
Linda Nordenberg
World Rank: 194
DOB: 1981


World Team Results: Men
Swedish Champions
  • 2000 World Team Champions
  • 1995 World Team Finalists
  • 1993 World Team Champions
  • 1991 World Team Champions
  • 1989 World Team Champions
  • 1987 World Team Finalists
  • 1985 World Team Finalists
  • 1983 World Team Finalists
  • 1977 World Team Third Place
  • 1975 World Team Third Place
  • 1973 World Team Champions
  • 1967 World Team Third Place
  • 1963 World Team Third Place
  • 1930 World Team Finalists
Olympics: Men
  • 2000 Silver (Waldner)
  • 1992 Gold (Waldner)
  • 1988 Bronze (Lindh)
World Championhips: Men
  • 1999 Third Place (Waldner)
  • 1997 Champion (Waldner)
  • 1997 Doubles Finalists (Waldner,Persson)
  • 1993 Third Place (Waldner)
  • 1991 Champion (Persson)
  • 1991 Finalist (Waldner)
  • 1991 Doubles Champions (Karlsson,Scheele)
  • 1989 Champion (Waldner)
  • 1989 Finalist (Persson)
  • 1987 Finalist (Waldner)
  • 1971 Champion (Bengtsson)
  • 1954 Finalist (Flisberg)
World Championhips: Women
  • 1928 Doubles Bronze (Brandt,Lövdahl)

History of table tennis in Sweden

Table tennis arrived to Sweden as a recreational game called ping-pong sometime in the 1890's, marketed by the Jacques company of London. A club championship was organized in 1906, but the rules were more similar to tennis. The serve was not required to bounce on the server's side, and volleys were allowed throughout the point! I can hardly imagine.

Development of table tennis equipment was a slow process, and the sport almost died out in Sweden in the 1910's. However, in part due to cold winters, table tennis gained in popularity after WWI mainly in the large cities.

Clubs started to develop and in 1925 the first "large" tournament was organized. 256 players registered, all of whom were required to help the referee. It was a success with the public. The best players were generally tennis players.

More national tournaments were organized, which were covered by the large newspapers. Public reaction was divided on this new sport. Some wrote that it had a loyal atmosphere played by gentlemen. Others however warned that it could "lure" teenagers away from more "healthy", outdoor sports such as track and field and skiing.

In 1926, more clubs and tournaments were organized, and Sweden became involved with the international effort to promote the sport. After some opposition, the Swedish Table Tennis Association (STTA) was created and joined to ITTF in 1926. The same year, Sweden sent a player to play in their first World Team Championships. However, after losing his overcoat on the boat to England, Henrik Ander lost his first match to England's Farris.

Sweden was delegated the 1928 World Team Championships, in which 165 players from 11 nations participated. Sweden was dissipointed with its fifth place finish. Sweden again hosted the World Team Championships in 1949, which this time contributed to both economic funds and popularity of the sport. An audience of 15,000 contributed 52,000 kronor (ca $5200).

For STTA's 25th year anniversary in 1951, a special national tournament is organized. 6000 players from 600 clubs participate. Friendly matched with England are also organized, but Sweden loses 0-5. In the 1953 World Team Championships in Bucharest, Sweden loses big to China 1-5. Two new tournaments are organized at home: "Talant Search" in which elite players are not allowed, and a disabled event.

Sweden's first success on the international scene is in 1954 when Tage Flisberg wins silver in the World Team Championships. 1955 is another dissapointment- the men place 9th, the women place 16th. Sweden hosts the World Team Championships in 1957, and although the Swedish players don't finish well, an audience of 30,000 contribute 160,000 kronor (ca $16000).

In the 1959 World Team Championships in Dortmund, Sweden finishes well against tough competition at fifth for the men and 10th for the women. China has now become a table tennis power. A foreign trainer named Ogimura, stays in Sweden for 4 months after a tournament in 1960, and points out that "the Swedes eat too many sweets, good growth amongst the boys, strong but slow, the girls are poor physically, must train much more".

Sweden's first trip to China is 1960. Stellan Bengtsson, "Stor-Stellan", was first choosen to go, but was later denied permission to leave his training with the Swedish army. During the 1960's, the Swedish team sees more successes in European tournaments, and the junior team win many events.

In 1969, a Swedish town celebrates its 50 year anniversary with "the World's largest table tennis event". Stiga erects 100 tables on the main street for the public to play on. Stellan Bengtsson, now 16, trains in Japan for 4 months.

Stellan Bengtsson wins the 1971 World Team Championships in Nagoya. The men take 4th place as a team. Ulf "Tickan" Carlsson enter the scene in the 1980 European Cup in which he wins. Mikael Appelgren wins the European Cup in 1982 against Carlsson.

There were many successes in 1983 for the Swedes. The top three finishers in the World Cup are 1) Applegren, 2) Waldner, 3) Lindh. The Swedish men take 2nd place in the World Team Championships, losing to China.

1984. Banda purchases Stiga. JO Waldner wins his first of many Europe Top-12. Ulf Bengtsson beats Andrzej Grubba of Poland to win the European Cup. Sweden hosts the 1985 World Cup in Goteborg, in which 90 nations participate and with an audience of 73,000. The Swedes lose big to China 0-5, and their only success with a win is men's doubles (Appelgren/Carlsson).

1986. Waldner wins Europe Top-12 with 11 matches won, 0 losses. Sweden beats France in the European Team finals. In the 1987 World Teams in New Dehli, the men reach the final after two very close fights with South Korea and West Germany (with Jorg Rosskopf). Unfortunately both Waldner and Appelgren become sick with stomach pains before the final and cannot play.

1988: Big year for table tennis. Table tennis is for the first time a sport in the Olympics. Waldner and Jorgen Persson reach the quarter finals. Erik Lindh wins bronze. Sweden's men team wins the 1989 World Teams with 5-0 against China in the final. Waldner is World Champion after beating Jorgen Persson in the final.

Sweden takes the top three places in the 1991 Europe Top 12 with Lindh, Waldner, and Persson in order. The dubbels team of Peter Karlsson/Thomas Von Scheele become World Champions in Chiba, Japan. Waldner wins gold at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona. Sweden wins the 1993 World Teams in Goteborg against China in the final. Waldner loses to Saive of Belgium in the semis.

Marie Svensson becomes European Champion in 1994. The men place 2nd at the 1995 World Teams held in China. Waldner wins his 7th European Top-12 in 1996, however the Olympics in Atlanta is a dissapointment.

Waldner becomes World Champion in 1997 in Manchester where he wins 21-0 in total sets and an unbelievable match against Samsonov in the final.

2000. Sweden wins the World Teams in Kuala Lumpur with 3-2 against China in the final. At the Sydney Olympics, Waldner takes silver, Persson reaches semis.


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