|Full name||Jan-Ove Waldner|
|Nickname(s)||老瓦 (Lǎo Wǎ, "Old Wa")|
|Born||3 October 1965|
|Playing style||Shakehand grip|
Jan-Ove Waldner[a] (Swedish: [ˈjɑːn uːvɛ ˈvǎldnɛr]; born 3 October 1965), in Sweden commonly J-O Waldner (Swedish: [ˈjiː uː], is a Swedish former professional table tennis player. He is often referred to as "the Mozart of table tennis." A sporting legend in his native Sweden as well as in China, he is known in China as 老瓦 Lǎo Wǎ ("Old Wa") or 常青树 Cháng Qīng Shù ("Evergreen Tree"), because of his extraordinary longevity and competitiveness. As of July 2023, he is the only person to win an Olympic table tennis gold medal representing a non-Asian country.
Jan-Ove Waldner was born in Stockholm on 3 October 1965. His athletic potential was recognised at an early age and was displayed in 1982 when, as a 16-year-old, he reached the final of the European Championships, losing to distinguished left-handed teammate Mikael Appelgren, who was perceived then as the logical successor to the first Swedish World Champion, Stellan Bengtsson. While still developing his game, Waldner, along with several other Swedish players, traveled to a national-level training camp held in China, and was reportedly amazed by the dedication and solidarity of the Chinese players. He has claimed ever since that he learned much during his stay, and thereafter first began to regard his opportunity to succeed in table tennis as paramount.
Waldner won gold in the men's singles at 1992 Summer Olympics, becoming the first and to date only player not from China, Japan, or South Korea to win an Olympic table tennis title. Eight years later, he won silver in the same event at the 2000 Summer Olympics, narrowly losing to Kong Linghui.
In China, a country that adores table tennis, he is undisputedly the best-known Swedish person, and still one of the most well-known sports personalities. In the 1990s, he was more recognisable in China than then-President of the United States Bill Clinton. His venerable status and long career has led to his being nicknamed "the evergreen tree" (Chang Qing Shu) in Mandarin. He is considered by many to be the most technically complete player of all time, and is almost inarguably the most successful non-Chinese player of the sport.
In 2010 Waldner won his ninth Swedish championship, defeating Pär Gerell, who was born the same year Waldner became Swedish national champion for the first time.
He played for TTC Rhön-Sprudel Fulda-Maberzell in the German Bundesliga until May 2012. In May 2012 Stefan Frauenholz, Fulda-Maberzell's President, confirmed that Jan-Ove Waldner had finished his contract with the club. Timo Boll: "Was yesterday's match against us the last one for Jan-Ove Waldner?", referring to the Bundesliga semifinal between Borussia Düsseldorf and Fulda-Maberzell. This ended his career at the international elite level, at the age of 46 years.
In 2012 he began playing for Spårvägens BTK.
On 11 February 2016, Waldner played his last game in the Swedish first league for Ängby/Spårvägen and officially announced his retirement as a player.
When he retired, Waldner had been playing international elite level table tennis for more than thirty years, which is somewhat unusual in the table tennis world given that hand–eye coordination and quick reactions are essential. Some young Chinese players whom he has recently played against were trained by those he played against in the 1990s, who were in turn trained by others he played in the 1980s.
He is one of the seven table tennis players who competed at the first five Olympic Games table tennis tournaments since the sport's introduction at the Games in 1988. The others are Swede Jörgen Persson, Croatian Zoran Primorac, Belgian Jean-Michel Saive, Hungarian Csilla Bátorfi, Serbian-American Ilija Lupulesku, and German Jörg Roßkopf.
He was also the first of only five male players in the history of table tennis to achieve a career grand slam (World Champion, World Cup and Olympic gold medal winner in singles) (in 1992). The others are: Liu Guoliang, China (in 1999), Kong Linghui, China (in 2000), Zhang Jike, China (in 2012), and Ma Long, China (in 2016).
- 1988 Final 8 in single, final 8 in double
- 1992 Gold medal in single, first round in double
- 1996 Final 16 in single, final 8 in double
- 2000 Silver medal in single, final 16 in double
- 2004 Fourth in single, final 8 in double
- 1983 Silver medal in team competition
- 1985 Silver medal in team competition
- 1987 Silver medal in single, silver medal in team competition
- 1989 Gold medal in single, gold medal in team competition
- 1991 Silver medal in single, gold medal in team competition
- 1993 Bronze medal in single, gold medal in team competition
- 1995 Silver medal in team competition
- 1997 Gold medal in single (21-0 in games), silver medal in double
- 1999 Bronze medal in single
- 2000 Gold medal in team competition
- 2001 Bronze medal in team competition
- 1982 Silver medal in single
- 1984 Silver medal in double, bronze medal in team competition
- 1986 Gold medal in double, gold medal in team competition
- 1988 Gold medal in double, gold medal in team competition
- 1990 Gold medal in team competition
- 1992 Silver medal in double, gold medal in team competition
- 1994 Silver medal in single, silver medal in team competition
- 1996 Gold medal in single, gold medal in double, gold medal in team competition
- 1998 Bronze medal in double, bronze medal in team competition
- 2000 Bronze medal in single, gold medal in team competition
- 2002 Gold medal in team competition
- 1981 Gold medal in double
- 1982 Gold medal in double
- 1983 Gold medal in single
- 1984 Gold medal in single
- 1986 Gold medal in single, gold medal in double
- 1987 Silver medal in double
- 1989 Gold medal in single, silver medal in double
- 1991 Gold medal in single, gold medal in double
- 1992 Gold medal in double
- 1993 Silver medal in double
- 1994 Silver medal in single, gold medal in double
- 1996 Gold medal in single
- 1997 Gold medal in single, silver medal in double
- 1999 Gold medal in double
- 2006 Gold medal in single
- 2010 Gold medal in single
- 2011 Gold in inter branch tournament
- Officially spelled Valdner in the Swedish civil records.
- Svenskar i världen (Swedes in the World), Spring edition 2005, Swedish magazine.
- Jan-Ove Waldner profile Archived 2008-10-23 at the Wayback Machine. Swedish Table Tennis Federation
- Biography of WALDNER Jan-Ove Archived 2009-02-09 at the Wayback Machine. ITTF.
- Bishop, G. (August 23, 2008). A Swedish face for China’s beloved sport. The New York Times.
- Clarey, C. (August 23, 2004). For 'table tennis Mozart,' few high notes. International Herald Tribune.
- Jan-Ove “Evergreen” Waldner – Table Tennis Legend. Game Tables Online
- "China table tennis boss says Olympic Covid rules 'extremely difficult'". 14 July 2021.
- "一个人对抗国乒六代选手，我们热爱的"老瓦"回来了". The Paper (in Chinese). 2019-05-30. Retrieved 20 February 2021.
- "Table Tennista Europe". Archived from the original on 2019-08-22. Retrieved 2012-07-18.
- Fulda-Maberzell web site, retrieved 19 July, 2012
- "Spårvägens BTK men's team in the 2012/13 season". Archived from the original on February 2, 2014.
- "Waldner Officially retired". Archived from the original on 2019-08-22. Retrieved 2016-12-25.
- "Sport Olympics 2012: table tennis". The Guardian. London. 2 August 2012. Retrieved 3 August 2012.
- Jan-Ove Waldner at World Table Tennis
- Jan-Ove Waldner at Olympics.com
- Jan-Ove Waldner at Olympic.org (archived)
- Jan-Ove Waldner at Olympedia
- Swedish championship statistics
- Jan-Ove Waldner vs. Mikael Appelgren – 1990 U.S. Open Table Tennis Championships Video at the Wayback Machine (archived February 11, 2010)
- Jan-Ove Waldner at Table Tennis Media
- Chinese TV interview mixed with video clips of his career
- Jan-Ove Waldners website for Chinese fans
- Jan-Ove Waldners website for English speaking fans
- Waldner retires