Belarussian table tennis star Samsonov works hard ahead of his sixth Olympic Games
Belarusian table tennis veteran is working towards a sixth and maybe even seventh Olympics
He has bagged three World Cup crowns and also been European champion on three occasions, and notched up a record 26 wins on the World Tour in a career that now spans nearly 30 years.
And 40-year-old Vladimir Samsonov is not finished, yet.
While most of his peers have long retired from top-level table tennis, the Belarusian is training hard for the 2016 Olympics, which will be held in Rio from Aug 5 to 21.
A veteran of five Olympics, the world No. 9 has war stories to tell from practically every Games, but no medal to show off.
"I reached the quarter-finals in my first Olympics, Atlanta '96, and was 2-0 up against China's Wang Tao, and twice during the match the lights went off," recalled Samsonov, when he met The New Paper last Saturday after training at the OCBC Arena.
The former world No. 1 hit town last Tuesday to train with the Singapore national team in preparation for the Japan Open next week.
"First, the delay was more than 20 minutes and the second time round, about 15 minutes. It was a bit strange, you know and I lost in the end."
After months of preparation leading up to London 2012, he crashed out on the first day of competition in the English capital.
Samsonov was randomly selected for doping control after he beat Australia's William Henzell 4-3 in the third round and exited the men's singles competition later the same day when he lost 4-3 to eventual gold medallist Zhang Jike of China.
"It was really fast, how you'd prepare for such a long time and everything was over in less than 10 hours," Samsonov recounted.
"Hopefully, this year it will be longer."
While the main threat will always be the men from China, he warned that the modern game has thrown up quality paddlers from all over the world.
"On one hand, winning an Olympic medal is easier than winning at the world championships because each country can send only two players to the Olympics, while there's no restriction for the world championships," said the paddler, who is nicknamed "Tai Chi Master" by the Chinese for his superb all-round style.
"But players like (Germany's Dimitrij) Ovtcharov and Timo Boll, (Japan's Jun) Mizutani, and the Koreans are also very dangerous, and it is possible that any of them can win a medal.
"You must be lucky with the draw, although in the end you are responsible for the result."
He thinks that a rising Japanese team may well threaten China's seemingly unassailable position at the top in a few years.
"They have a very good young team and have so many good players playing in international competitions now," he said.
Samsonov, described as one of the most gentlemanly players on Tour, may yet try for a seventh Olympics in Tokyo 2020.
He said: "I might stop playing international competitions (after Rio 2016) for a while and then try to come back for the next Olympics.
"There are many options ahead for me."