By Amina Nazarli
The official opening ceremony of the 2015 NN Table Tennis Club ITTF – Europe TOP-16 Table Tennis Tournament was held in Azerbaijan`s capital Baku on February 6.
Some 16 male and 16 female players, including Farhad Ismayilov and Maryam Imanova from Azerbaijan participated in the three-day competition.
Shahin Mustafayev, President of the Azerbaijan Table Tennis Federation , Azad Rahimov, Youth and Sport Minister as well as Ronald Kramer, President of the European Table Tennis Union attended the event.
Addressing the ceremony, Rahimov said Azerbaijan is recognized as an important sport nation in the world. He said the country has successfully hosted international sport events in the past few years.
The minister hailed President Ilham Aliyev`s attention to development of sports in the country. Rahimov expressed gratitude to the International Table Tennis Federation and European Table Tennis Union for confidence they put in Azerbaijan on the organization of the tournament.
Kramer, for his turn, hailed the organization of the TOP-16 in Azerbaijan as an important sport event. He thanked the Azerbaijani government for its excellent organization.
Speaking at the event, Mustafayev said developing sports was among key priorities in the Azerbaijani President`s policy. He also touched upon the upcoming first European Games and the 4th Islamic Solidarity Games.
In the men's standing, German Dimitrij Ovtcharov gained the gold medal. In knife-edge final he beat last year’s champion Marcos Freitas of Portugal. Freitas became the second. Greek Panagiotis Gionis won the bronze medal.
In the women's standing, Liu Jia from Australia became the winner of the competition. In the final, she overcame Petrissa Solja of Germany. Solja and Irene Ivancan took the second and third places respectively.
The tournament was founded in 1971. The competition was previously called TOP-12, and was recently renamed TOP-16.