The living Estonian table tennis legend became the absolute champion in the 2023 national championships, also setting a new record.
Prior to this year’s tournament, the Estonian veteran had 36 gold medals on his resume. Just one less than the 1973 World Championships bronze medalist Rein Lindmäe. Vallot Vainula had a chance to rewrite history and become the most accomplished player in the national championship’s history. As you can already guess, he excelled in this task.
Teaming up with Aleksandr Smirnov, they won the doubles event, overcoming Aleksandr Lušin and Stanislav Strogov in the final 3-1. In the mixed doubles final, Vainula and Airi Avameri won against Aleksandr Smirnov and Katlin Põldveer 3-1.
The journey toward the gold medal in the singles event was the most challenging one. Experienced Vainula had plenty of trouble in the semi-final against the 16-year-old Estonian talent Markkos Pukk. He had a 3-2 and 9-6 lead, however, Vainula remained focused and was able to take the game to the seventh set. The decider was close, but the experience took over youth and Vainula advanced to the final.
In the final, his opponent was Mart Luuk, who had a successful start, having a 2-1 lead. The next three sets were tight and Luuk put up a great fight. However, Vainula won all three sets in a row and won his 9th singles gold and 39th gold medal overall.
The future tournaments will be interesting to follow, as Aleksandr Smirnov will continue to pursue gold medals to overcome Vallot Vainula as the most accomplished Estonian table tennis player of all time. After this tournament, Smirnov has 36 gold medals. Since he is seven years younger than Vainula, the age difference might be an advantage at one point. Who will be the Estonian all-time leader? The time will show.
2023 ESTONIAN TABLE TENNIS CHAMPIONSHIPS MEDALISTS
Vallot Vainula/Aleksandr Smirnov
Aleksandr Lušin/Stanislav Strogov
Maksim Vuhka/Sergei Petrov
Mart Luuk/Mihkel Pae
Vallot Vainula/Airi Avameri
Aleksandr Smirnov/Katlin Põldveer
Stanislav Strogov/Vitalia Reinol
Maksim Vuhka/Valeria Hachard
To see more of TTM content, subscribe to our YouTube & follow us on Instagram.