Since January 1st, 2015 we are most proud to welcome Tiago APOLONIA as the newest member to the Butterfly family. At his visit to Butterfly Europe in Moers, Germany, we took the opportunity to ask the sympathetic 28 year-old a few questions about recent success and future perspectives…
Q:Tiago, you have become European Champion with team Portugal. How much has that changed for you?
Our success changed alot for Table tennis in Portugal, and for me personally. We have gained lots of media attention and praise (smiles). We even received a medal of honor from the head of state in Portugal. Of course, the attention raises expectations on us, but this only motivates me more!
Q: How do you remember the finals match against Germany?
We knew that all this bad luck with injuries had weakened the German team, so we stood a chance. As a favorite, Germany also was under pressure and we had the advantage of the home crowd in the MEO Arena. That helped a lot. We played a great tournament, everyone was in great shape, so we could win the finals if everything went perfectly. And then it did.
Q: For you as well?
Absolutely. I have played some good matches before, but winning over Dimitrij Ovtcharov was probably the biggest victory so far.
Q: In Portugal, you have these three players of a “golden generation”, Joao Monteiro, Marcos Freitas, and yourself. You are all about the same age. How did this happen, did you have the same coach?
(laughs) No, this is a strange thing! Joao comes from the Guarda region, Marcos from Madeira Island and I was born in Lisbon. We all came to the sport on separate ways and only met in the national team or on international events and we all had different coaches. The fact the we all play on a similar level in international table tennis is pure coincidence.
We three have for sure brought Portugal back on the scene in international table tennis, and our success has paved the way for a new generation. Young players such as Diogo Chen or Joao Geraldo will one day ensure Portugal remains popular in international table tennis.
Q: You have reached your highest world ranking so far in November 2014 (No. 13), at 27 years of age. What made this the perfect time for you to join team Butterfly?
I went to school just like everyone else, and even started to study at university afterwards. Table tennis was always important to me, but my life did not revolve around it. It was at 19 years of age that I decided to play professionally, so I was for sure a late start in table tennis. This is why I feel that I am still at the beginning of my career and my best years are still ahead. I am working hard on my fitness, my flexibility and my game. I feel that I can still improve and together with Butterfly, I want to tap into my full potential.
Q: What are your goals?
I am not someone who works for a specific goal, no title or medal at a world championship, and I do not plan on winning a specific tournament. I constantly work to push my limits and simply try to be the best table tennis player that I can be.
“I trust the success will come as a result.”
Q: What Butterfly equipment supports you in this?
I am using Liu Shiwen blade with Tenergy 05 2.1mm on forehand and backhand. The Liu Shiwen blade gives me the softer feeling of a natural blade without carbon fibers, yet it is flexible, precise and provides the necessary power to my topspin play.
I favor the Tenergy 05 for its stability in topspin duels. The ball exactly follows the movement of my blade, enabling me to play counter topspins very precisely with heavy spin. The curved trajectory of the ball indicates the quality of the shot. I also like the durability of the Tenergy compared to other rubbers. Even with my heavy training regiment, I can use a pair of Tenergys from the first to the finals’ day of a world tour tournament. The Tenergy remains well-playable even long after that.