Reinis Burgis’ career as a professional table tennis player is over, but he couldn’t leave the table tennis world. A month ago he won the Middle-of-Norway Championship (Midt-Norge) in Trondheim, and he is competing all over Norway.
Foto: Martins Silis
Burgis discovered his passion for table tennis fifteen years ago, but that was still too late for him to become a professional player. Now he is the coach of Ørsta table tennis club while taking Norwegian classes at Volda University College. He shared his passion with his little brother who was a European Champion, and even though the trainee became better than the trainer, he is proud.
With a career in table tennis, why did you come from Latvia to Volda?
I came here in April last year. I’d been to Norway a few times before, to visit a table tennis coach who is a good friend of mine. I asked him if there were any clubs interested in having a coach, then this proposal came from Volda. After all the formalities were set, I took my car and my things and came here.
So, now you are playing table tennis as a professional?
Not quite. I call it a professional when you are training daily and want to improve and go to tournaments. I’m not like that anymore, now I’m just playing for myself.
Let’s go back to the beginning. How did you start playing table tennis?
I started when I was twelve, which is like four years too late if you want to become good enough for the European level. It lasted almost ten years, until I realized I wouldn’t become a world class professional.
Why not? What stopped you?
I tried, but my results were not good enough. When I was seventeen I stayed a whole year in Sweden and I trained every day. All I did was eat, sleep and play. That’s how I tested myself.
When did you give up being a professional?
After that year. Because I was preparing for the European Championship for juniors and I set goals for myself. I am still connected to table tennis, though. I go around playing in Norway, and a month ago, in Trondheim, I won the Middle-of-Norway Championship. I’ve also won some local tournaments.
So, even though you trained every day for a year, it was not enough?
It seems so. I went to the European Championship with my national team in Latvia became the best of 64 players in my class. But then I realized that I wouldn’t be able to reach the top, and that was the most difficult moment of my career. It’s not only about how hard you try… But of course I didn’t stop playing.
What do you need to become a professional table tennis player?
First of all it’s about your lifestyle. You have to commit yourself to the sport. You can’t go to competitions and party all night. And then it’s about how you do the shots. You have to be able to move fast and fix your body in any kind of position. You need to have a strong mind to be able to think when to serve, how to find the wick places for the opponent and not to get nervous in decisive points. And besides that, in table tennis you have to start playing quite early, when you’re six or seven years old.
Is it a big difference starting when you’re twelve and not six?
If you aim for the top level in Europe or in the world, it makes a big difference. It takes time to learn the basics, and at twelve it is much harder.
How did you discover your passion for table tennis?
Actually, I think my main passion is to compete. I like tennis because I’m in the center of the sport – it’s only about me. If I win, it’s my win. If I lose, I can’t blame anyone but myself.
What do you think about when you are playing?
If you want to do your best you’re concentration level must be very high. You can’t give up on any point, and when you are totally concentrated you see nothing but the table – you don’t even look that much at the opponent. If you lose a point you have to forget immediately about it and be ready for the next one.
Your brother is playing table tennis too, right?
My brother is much better than me and he is a top player in Europe. He is younger than me, 22 years old, and he is ranked number 129 in the world. I teached him how to play, and later, as he got older, he started to train with me and my friends. Then my coach took notice of him.
Now you are training the kids here in Volda. How is it?
It’s not easy, but at the same time it’s very nice when you see improvement. When your knowledge to someone, you receive the double amount of energy in return.
Do you see any future champions in Volda?
Yes, I do. There are some kids here with good hands and good opportunities. It’s just a question about whether they want to train properly, day by day.