By Ian Marshall. Photo: Rémy Gros.
Workout sessions are the order of the day.
During her playing career, physical fitness was very much a key factor. Strong top spin play from both backhand and forehand was demanding. It established her as a member of the German national team and an international player of note.
Physically fit, Elke Schall proved mentally strong at crucial moments; the best example, in the second round of the women’s singles event at the Liebherr 2003 World Championships in Paris, she beat China’s Li Nan 21-17 in the deciding seventh game!
A distinguished career, commencing in 1992 in Barcelona, she competed in five consecutive Olympic Games, a feat few can match; the longevity underlines the fact that she maintained a high level of fitness. Notably in her first four appearances, she partnered Nicole Struse in the women’s doubles, a player with whom she enjoyed success at the European Championships.
In 1996 in Bratislava and 1998 in Eindhoven, in addition to being members of the successful outfit in the women’s team event, they secured women’s doubles gold. Moreover, they almost made it three in a row; in 2000 in Bremen, they were bronze medallists.
Very much a team player; that facet lends itself perfectly to World Table Tennis Day togetherness and co-operation is always an underlining theme.
It was a fact in the career of Elke Schall most evident at the Liebherr 2010 World Team Championships in Moscow. Against the odds, at the quarter-final stage, Germany recorded a 3-1 win against Hong Kong. Elke Schall was resigned to the bench, the selection was Wu Jiaduo, Kristin Silbereisen and Sabine Winter.
Only once coach allowed, at the time the coach for the German team Jörg Bitzigeio. He was of no doubt that in the win Elke Schall played a major role. “Having Elke, it’s just like having a second coach”, were his words as the team celebrated.
The ability to advise others, contribute to the team effort, it is those facets Elke Schall brings to World Table Tennis Day; listen, take heed and enjoy.