KUKA and Timo Boll have formed a perfect team for six years. Now, in a unique documentary film, the robotics and automation company accompanies the table tennis star on his way to the 2021 Olympic Games in Tokyo. The project shows the journey of an exceptionally talented athlete from his early days in provincial Hessen, Germany, through ups and downs, to becoming a global top athlete.
Timo Boll and KUKA: a special partnership
It all started with a very special duel. Timo Boll, Germany’s most successful table tennis player, faced what is probably the fastest robot in the world – the KR AGILUS from KUKA – in the film “The Duel”. The marketing video was produced for the opening of a KUKA plant in China. In the Middle Kingdom, table tennis is one of the most popular sports and Timo Boll is a celebrated star.
The quick, likeable, successful and hard-working athlete represents top performance and fair play. As a brand ambassador for KUKA, Timo Boll has stood in front of the camera alongside high-precision, resilient and quality-assured German industrial robots many times. As a techie, he is also very interested in robotics.
I’m a technology freak! KUKA robots are fascinating products: fast, agile, precise and reliable. Just like a good table tennis player. I’m certainly prepared for a hard-fought match against a KUKA robot.
Timo Boll: The spin of life – on the way to Tokyo
“The spin of life” is a special film project about an exceptional career: for more than 14 years during his career, Timo Boll ranked among the top ten table tennis players globally, including a lengthy period of time at the top of the list. At 37, he reclaimed the number one ranking, becoming the oldest table tennis player to do so. He has collected over 20 German titles, won World Cups and European Championships, and won medals at the Olympic Games in Beijing, London and Rio. With singles, doubles and team trophies, Timo Boll is a team player to the core. At the age of 39, the table tennis star is still in top form and looking to demonstrate it once again by reaching the Tokyo 2021 Olympics.
Part 1: First Steps
How it all began: while Timo Boll is preparing for the Olympic Games in his hometown of Höchst, Germany, we explore the charm of the Odenwald region in southern Hesse. There, we look back at his childhood and provide an exclusive look into his parents’ home and the beginnings of young Timo Boll in the 1980s right up to his meeting with the man who discovered him and became his greatest patron, Helmut Hampl. [02-2020]
Part 2: Know Your Roots
Timo Boll won three gold medals at the European Junior Championships and became a legend in Höchst, Hesse. However, Timo, who has a strong attachment to his hometown, has become part of a larger story. An entire team moved to Höchst just for him and did so at a point when no one could have guessed what would become of talented Timo. No one, that is, except the man who discovered him: Helmut Hampl. [03-2020]
Part 3: International Breakthrough
Timo is preparing intensively for the 2021 Olympics, including a medical examination.
We look back on the first meeting with his idol Jörg Roßkopf, who has to clean up at Timo's club, the TTV Gönnern. But this is exactly what helps Timo to reach the top of the world for the first time in 2003. [04-2020]
Part 4: Fair play
Certainly Timo's successes are among his greatest moments. In 2005 he has the best chances to win the world champion title. But at the world championship he makes a momentous decision which destroys the way to the title, but helps him to international reputation.
Part 5: Partnerships
Timo nurtures and maintains his partnerships - also with his sponsors. So he has only a small but for him perfect pool of supporters who accompany him over the years. ARAG, Butterfly and KUKA. Especially with the robot manufacturer from Augsburg Timo has an exciting partnership, which has already led the technology freak to special films that caused a sensation.
Part 6: The team player
Individual athletes are often considered as loners. This is not the case with Timo Boll: the table tennis star also shines out in doubles and team competitions and has won numerous titles with various teams. What is it like to stand at the table with Timo Boll in international competitions? What is team play with Timo like? His table tennis doubles partners talk about shared experiences and successes.
Part 7: My China
Particularly in China, Timo Boll acquired hero status early on. In dozens of visits, the German table tennis professional has become an expert on China – and more famous in the Middle Kingdom than virtually any other sportsman. But what is it like to be celebrated in the Far East, while leading a somewhat peaceful existence back home in Germany? And there is an incredible moment for Timo: we look back at flag-bearer Timo Boll at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio and let former German flag-bearers talk us through this moment.
Part 8: Olympic Hero
Even after an active sporting career spanning 25 years, Timo Boll is still playing at the top of his game. Even though the Olympic Games have now been pushed back by a year, he is in a bullish mood: it may be his 6th Olympics, but he still intends to go for gold. What are the chances for Timo Boll? We put this question to his contemporaries and fellow players.
The history of a special duel
Table tennis star Timo Boll and KUKA have been partners for many years. The partnership drew attention thanks to a very special duel. In the marketing video “The Duel”, which has been viewed over 12 million times, Timo Boll and a KUKA KR AGILUS robot compete against each other on the table tennis table. In the end, the human came out on top. Later on, revenge was taken in a discipline where the robot had the upper hand. Discover earlier films of KUKA and Timo Boll.