Germanyâ€™s Timo Boll and Chinaâ€™s reigning World Champion Ding Ning have been crowned the 2017 Male & Female Table Tennis Stars at the Astana 2017 ITTF Star Awards.
The year ending gala dinner and award ceremony held last night at the Rixos President Hotel in Astana, Kazakhstan, where the worldâ€™s best table tennis stars and coaches dressed up in glitz & glamour to join in a night of celebration for their achievements over the past year.
Eight prestigious awards were handed out to the respective winners.
The Male Table Tennis Star award presented by DHS saw a tough contest with reigning World & Olympic Champion Ma Long who had been dominating the international scene for several years, newly crowned Menâ€™s World Cup Champion Dimitrij Ovtcharov, table tennis legend Timo Boll and Japanese prodigy Tomokazu Harimoto all eyeing for the prestigious title.
It was former world number one Boll, who rolled back the years to pull off several amazing comebacks and spectacular action in 2017 who impressed table tennis fans all over the world and the expert panel, which included athletes and members of the media, to garner the most votes to be crowned the 2017 Table Tennis Star.
The 36-year-old shared â€œI am very surprised to win this prestigious award against so many top players who have had an amazing year. Thanks to all my team and all the players who helped me win this amazing award. This award is for my fans, they are my inspiration!â€
Hot favourite for the Female Table Tennis Star title presented by Nittaku, reigning World & Olympic Champion Ding Ning did not disappoint as she takes her third Female Table Tennis Star award tonight to become the first ever athlete to achieve such as feat.
After fending off competition from current world number one Zhu Yuling (CHN), Japanese superstar Miu Hirano and Chinese Taipei number one Cheng I-Ching, the 27-year-old stated: â€œThank you so much! Itâ€™s a great honour! I want to thank ITTF for giving me this award. Thank you to all who supported me, I will keep fighting for more awards like this. I promise to make this game more popular in the world! Thank you!â€
Ding walks home as the biggest winner from the Astana 2017 ITTF Star Awards as her lightning fast rally against Zhu at the 2017 World Championships final was voted by fans as the 2017 Star Point presented by Seamaster.
Turkish star Neslihan Kavas was crowned the Female Para Table Tennis Star presented by Stag International after a success year on the international para table tennis scene, including a silver in the Class 9 event at the World Para Table Tennis Team Championships and claiming both the Singles Class 9 & Team Class 9-10 Gold medals at the 2017 European Para Table Tennis Championships.
Class 8 World number one Viktor Didukh who actively represented Ukraine on the ITTF World Tour prior to being diagnosed with cancer in 2008 that necessitated amputation of his left leg, took home the Male Para Table Tennis Star award presented by Tinsue after winning several titles at various para table tennis Open & Championships events around the world.
14-year-old Tomokazu Harimoto claims the 2017 Breakthrough Star award presented by Monday Club, after being the youngest ever World Tour Singles Champion and youngest ever World Championships quarterfinalist in 2017, beating world top 10 stars Timo BOLL and Jun Mizutani respectively.
Having coached the German team to reclaim the Menâ€™s Team Gold at the European Championships, as well as led top German stars Boll & Ovtcharov to several World Tour titles & victory at the 2017 Menâ€™s World Cup, Germanyâ€™s Jorg Rosskopf was named the 2017 Star Coach presented by Butterfly.
The 2017 Fair Play Star was handed out to Franceâ€™s Irvin Bertrand for his act of fair play at the Belarus Open where he gave his opponent his spare racket to compete fairly in the competition, after his opponent failed the racket control testing and was not allowed to play.
With the conclusion of the Astana 2017 ITTF Star Awards, the worldâ€™s best table tennis stars now return to the Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Tour Grand Finals held in Astana, Kazakhstan from 14-17 December to battle for the US$1,000,000 prize money on offer at the season ending finale.