How the Mozart of Table Tennis Learned the Rules & Became a World Champ

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Jan-Ove Waldner did not just become a top table tennis player overnight. Born on the 3rd of October 1965 in Stockholm, Sweden, Jan-Ove Waldner lost a series of matches before he became the Mozart of table tennis as he is fondly called. His speed, longevity and competitiveness gave rise to the nickname “the Mozart of table tennis”.

If you thought Jan-Ove was just a Swedish Champion, then you need to think again. During his professional days, it was rare to find a table tennis player that will give him a tough time.

Interestingly, Jan-Ove was among the first seven table tennis players that took part in the first five Olympic Games table tennis tournament when it was introduced in 1988. 

How the Mozart of Table Tennis Learned the Rules & Became a World Champ

Jan-Ove Waldner Background

Jan-Ove Waldner was an early starter. At 5 years, he learned the rules of ping pong and started practicing with his brother with a rickety old table, unlike some players. Initially, Jan-Ove was too small to play, so he stood on pedestals or buckets

Four years later, young Jan-Ove at 9 won the first Swedish National Championships in his category. As early as 16 years, he reached the final of the Table tennis European Championships in 1982. However, he lost the championship to Mikael Appelgren. 

Back then, Mikael Appelgren was perceived as the next Swedish player to take over from Swedish table tennis player Stellan Bengtsson. But Jan-Ove turned out to become a more successful Swedish table tennis player of all time.

Considering his outstanding performance, Jan-Ove was among the Swedish table tennis men’s team that traveled across the world for tournaments. According to Jan-Ove, his first visit to China was a life changer. After seeing the dedication of Chinese table tennis to the sport, he worked on playing better.

The Making of the Mozart of Table Tennis (Jan-Ove Waldner)

Jan-Ove’s career breakthrough came after he got to the finals of the European Championships in 1982. In 1983, Jan-Ove participated in his first World Championships. Amazingly, he got to the last 16 stages. Based on these achievements, he moved from 43rd place to 38 positions in the table tennis world ranking then. 

Subsequently, he reached the 9th position at the Europe Top 12 tournament. A few of Jan-Ove’s outstanding achievements in the world of table tennis are:

  • 4 silver medal in World Championships (Single)
  • 6 gold medals in Swedish Championships (Single)
  • 1 silver medal in Olympic games (Single)
  • 1 gold medal in Olympic Games (Single)
  • 8 gold medals in Swedish Championships (Double)
  • 2 silver medals in European Championships (Single)
  • 5 gold medals in European Championship (Team competition)
  • 4 gold medals in World Championship (Team competition)

Frankly, the list of Jan-Ove’s winnings is endless. He made an impression that is yet to be achieved by a Swedish table tennis player. More so, he also played at table tennis club levels. His last contract was with the German side TTC Rhön-Sprudel Fulda-Maberzell. Jan-Ove’s contract with the club expired in 2012.

Jan-Ove Waldner’s Last Battle

In 2000, Waldner participated at the Olympic stage. In the semi-finals, he narrowly won his match against the 1996 Table tennis gold medalist China’s Lui Guoliang. 

However, the final was against Kong Linghui. It was a difficult battle for both players. Waldner and Linghui fought like two dying lions. Eventually, Kong Linghui won the match. This match turned out to be the toughest match Waldner played in his career. Jan-Ove was 34 years at the time.

Nonetheless, before he participated in the 2000 Olympic Games, Jan-Ove told the press that it was his last appearance. After the match, Jan-Ove said he lost because Kong Linghui was a little bit better.

Where is Jan-Ove Waldner Now?

Amazingly, Jan-Ove is currently retired and cooling off in his country Sweden. Surprisingly, he is still regarded as one of the richest table tennis players in the world with a net worth of $1 million. Also, Jan-Ove is currently 56 years and still looks good for his age. Just like most celebrities, Jan-Ove likes to keep his personal life private. 

There is no record of who Jan-Ove is married to or if he had been divorced in the past. Although like other celebrities he was in a few relationships in the past none was made public. 

Summing Up

Jan-Ove’s record has remained unbeaten in Sweden. At some point, Jan-Ove coached the Swedish Table tennis men’s team. His achievements in the game of table tennis lovers still re-echo in the mind of many fans.

Finally, Jan-Ove Waldner is indeed a table tennis legend. He is one of the few players that have challenged and won the Chinese dominant sports several times.


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