Table Tennis: Persson becomes a nobody

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LESS THAN two days after celebrating the most emotional evening of his career after winning the world team title, Jorgen Persson suffered 'the worst 15 minutes of my life' - the loss of his world title in straight games yesterday to a qualifier, writes James Leigh from Gothenburg.

Persson was beaten 21-14, 21-4, 21-17 by the French No 4, Patrick Chila. It was one of the biggest upsets of all time. Equally incredible, there never seemed any doubt that Chila would achieve it. He was always ahead in the first game and in the second took the first 12 points. 'I was never afraid,' said the left- handed Frenchman.

Half an hour later another home hero, Peter Karlsson, had also gone out. The only leading player to remain unbeaten in the team event, the No 13 seed, was also defeated by a qualifier. Karlsson's conqueror, by 11-21, 21-11, 21-11, 21-16, was a Belorussian, Vladimir Samsonov.

England's two leading players had no problems surviving the first round. Chen Xinhua sauntered past Ian Stokes of Scotland in straight games, whilst Lisa Lomas also gained a straight- games victory over Polona Frelih of Slovenia.

Alan Cooke also won, but English national champion Carl Prean, struggling forlornly with his injured wrist bandaged, was beaten in five sets by the 17-year- old Swede, Fredrik Hakansson.