Jan Ove Waldner
One Last Time
Waldner returned again to the Olympic stage in 2000. After announcing that it would be his last Olympic appearance, he faced an emotional battle in the semi-finals with the gold medallist from the 1996 Olympics. Waldner, at the age of thirty-four, outlasted the reigning champion, China's Liu Guoliang, but eventually succumbed to top seeded Kong Linghui in the finals. "I lost because Kong played a bit better," Waldner said after the match. Kong, who had studied the game briefly in Sweden, paid respect to his opponent by saying he had watched and idolized Waldner while growing up in China.
Waldner's career has slowed considerably since 2000. He has been hampered by injuries but vows to make another comeback. Regardless of his current status, Waldner has already left a lasting impact on the sport he loves. His mythological reputation will continue to influence and inspire newcomers to the game while he continues to serve as an ambassador for a sport that desperately needs the support of its stars.