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Kirill Gerassimenko, the source of inspiration

Saturday 09 January

Kirill Gerassimenko, the source of inspiration

The largest landlocked country in the world in terms of area, located in central Asia, it is Kazakhstan’s claim to fame; when the subject of table tennis is on the agenda, perhaps the nation cannot hold such a position in the global hierarchy but if progress is the measure, then it is amongst the leading lights.

Bravely, in 2017, Nur-Sultan, at time known as Astana, the capital city, hosted the ITTF World Tour Grand Finals; more recently on Monday 23rd November 2020 a state-of-the art National Table Tennis Centre was declared officially open in the city of Karaganda. Significantly Kassym-Jomart Kemeluly Tokayev, the President of Kazakhstan attended the opening ceremony; his presence alone reflecting the increasing status the sport of table tennis holds in the country.

Unquestionably the attendance of such a dignitary is a major boost but as with any country in any sport, there is nothing to beat a star name, an icon; one that that sets a standard to whom younger generations can look for inspiration.

In Kazakhstan such a personality exists, step forward Kirill Gerassimenko, the 24-year-old has achieved heights no predecessor has achieved.

He entered the men’s world rankings just under a decade in August 2011 at no.1285 when only 14 years of age. Continual progress in November 2017 he had risen to no.98, before one year later gaining the highest of his career when listed at no.33. On the most recent editions, the four publications issued from last year in April to the present day, he has been named in the no.46 spot.

The effect is that when rankings for Asia are concerned, he occupies the no.22 spot; in his region of the continent, Mid-Asia, he is the top name.

Moreover, when considering world and continental ranking, had it not been for the pandemic which halted international play last year in March, could he have been even higher?

He started 2020 in a most impressive manner; on Saturday 8th February he won the men’s singles title at the ITTF Challenge Spanish Open in Granada. Impressively in the later rounds ending German hopes, with the greatest of respect, a player from Kazakhstan beating an adversary from German is not the norm.

At the semi-final stage, he overcame Steffen Mengel (11-4, 4-11, 11-7, 12-10, 11-6), followed by success in opposition to Benedikt Duda (11-6, 11-6, 10-12, 7-11, 13-11, 6-11, 11-7). A milestone win and a arguably a second; earlier in 2017 on the ITTF World Tour, Kirill Gerassimenko had won the under 21 men’s singles title in Hungary.

Both were firsts for Kirill Gerassimenko and for Kazakhstan, feats no compatriot has yet equalled, his efforts setting the example and clearly motivating his colleagues.

On the newly published Mid-Asia men’s rankings, over 25 per cent of the players listed, a total of 11 from 42 overall, are from Kazakhstan; impressive numbers, statistics that underline current progress, dedicated efforts and the undoubted influence of their role model, Kirill Gerassimenko.

Mid-Asia Men’s Ranking: Players from Kazakhstan:   

01. Kirill Gerassimenko

08. Aidos Kenzhigulov

09. Bekulan Zhamal

10. Denis Zholudev

16. Timur Kelbuganov

32. Iskender kharki

37. Dastan Kenzhigulov

39. Sanzhar Zhubanov

39. Irisibek Artukmetov 

39. Bakdaulet Akimali    

39. Vladislav Zakharov

Editor: Ian Marshall

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