7 April 1971 is a classic date in Swedish sports history as well as in the Swedish table tennis history.
That’s when Sweden got its first World Table Tennis Champion in Men’s Singles. Stellan Bengtsson responded to a performance no-one thought this 18-year-old youth was capable of doing. This happened in Nagoya, Japan, and suddenly the sport was in the light of headline news and a role model was born for many young players. Jörgen Persson, Jan-Ove Waldner, Ulf Carlsson, team mate of Stellan Bengtsson in Falkenbergs BTK, to mention some.
For decades after this event, Stellan Bengtsson can meet people on the street telling exactly what they did when Stellan won this historic gold.
Stellan also acknowledges that he would never have become a World Champion without his more than three months stay in Japan before the tournament.
The pictures from the fourth game in the final versus home player Shigeo Ito when Stellan realises that he is about to become World Champion since he has an almost unintelligible leadership is indescribable. He doesn’t seems to understand what’s going to happen, he only shakes his head and when the match ball until 21-17, 19-21, 21-13, 21-10 is ready, he rushes crying against his team leader Christer Johansson. A picture of total happiness and great joy for Stellan personally and for Swedish table tennis in total.
In the picture you can see Stellan congratulated by Allan Eriksson, Bengt Grive, former Swedish Champion, and behind him Halmstad BTK’s legendary leader and founder Curt Holmqvist is seen.