The I Feel Slovenia Open Thermana Laško has a long and rich tradition. “I had wanted for Slovenia

to hold such an event. Why? Because we didn’t have one and it also gave our players a chance to

compete against the best, plus for us to earn some funds to invest back into para table tennis.

Hosting a tournament like this also gives you a good opportunity for networking, creating bonds,

making friends and connections with the International Table Tennis Federation … It had a very

positive effect on Laško, Thermana Laško and Slovenia in general,” Gorazd Vecko, who was

behind the original idea for the Laško event, remembers 2004, when the first tournament was held.

The decision to take on its organization was the first milestone in the development of the event.

“Another milestone was the temporary move to Kranjska Gora, where we wanted to organize the

European championships. We made it happen in 2007 and the ITTF required us to hold a ‘rehearsal’

event there, which was successful. But the tournament went back to Laško the following year and

we turned it into the best one in the world,” Vecko continues. “2008 was a breaking point because

more and more teams from Asia and other continents started attending,” Vecko stresses the third

milestone. And let us add that China won 27 medals in Laško in 2008, just ahead of their home

Paralympic Games in Beijing. “We’ve only been growing since: Laško hosted the European

championship in 2017 and Celje the world championship a year later, while Slovenia was the first

ever to hold the Paralympic qualification tournament for the Tokyo Games in 2021,” Vecko points

out, realizing there is still room for improvement with the event.

“We must remember: Slovenian Table Tennis Association also realizes how much all this has done

for the recognition of table tennis in Slovenia and opened the door for STTA to numerous

tournaments. In the table tennis world, the first associations with Slovenia are Darko Jorgič and the

superbly organized event in Laško, where we hosted a delegation of the very top ITTF officials last

year: Petra Sörling (President of the ITTF), Raul Calin (ITTF Secretary General), Leandro Olvech

(ITTF Foundation director) and Steve Dayton (ITTF Group CEO),” concludes Vecko, the founding

father of the tournament in Laško, where it all began 19 years ago. And where it will all continue.

Welcome back to Laško, welcome to Slovenia!