Interview with Helmut Hampl
You coached Timo Boll from an early age until he became Number 1 in the world. What kind of relationship is that ?
Often the media said I am his father. I’m not, I don’t even want to be his father. I think we have – together with Jörg Roßkopf – an incredible relationship of trust. Nevertheless this respect between a coach and the players is necessary. Otherwise it probably wouldn’t work so well.
When you know each other, work together for such a long time and spend five to six hours a day training, the players sometimes entrust me with things outside of sports. This way a coach becomes a consultant on life issues. But the boys are good at separating between training or competing from times we meet for dinner in the evening. These are two pairs of shoes.
The German Table Tennis Association (DTTB) today has 700,000 members*. How do you evaluate the public appreciation of your sport?
Table tennis is already very important in Germany, but it is one of the biggest sports in Asia. Table tennis is number one in China. There Timo Boll and Jörg Roßkopf, are top stars, real media stars. When Timo gets off the plane in China and goes to passport control, people are shouting „Mr. Boll, Mr. Boll“. When he’s competing in China, he needs a security service. There are crowds of people, something we can’t imagine here.
In Germany he is well-known. In the Top 100 poll, he was voted in 32nd place. Athletes who have a larger media presence were far behind him. Jörg Roßkopf also landed in the top 100. But when you see the two of them training here, younger players, 13-14 year-olds get in contact. They greet the top player Boll with „Hello Timo“ and then there is a clap. The relationship within the table tennis team is very good, with no star cult.