Sitting in the stands with the technical director of the French Table Tennis Association , member of the ITTF Junior Commission and long time friend/colleague Mr Michel Gadal.. Interesting stuff…. We could for sure see France dominating the European Youth Championships for year to come, especially on the boys side.
Extremely well organized Talent ID program in place.. Athletes are identified at the age of 8-9 and brought together at training centers and in camp situations. The program is working very well for the boys…but a new strategy is needed for the girls ; ” I attended the last training camp we had in our Talent ID program. Good thing that we had the same number of boys as girls.. But the quality is very different. We are struggling with the girls although the Cadet Team here has done pretty well. I have asked for a new strategy to be implemented said Michel.
The numbers might have something to do with it… 83 % men and 17 % women play table tennis in France.. Brutal in-balance.
Simon Gauzy is the nr one prospect…. Here are some special facts ; He was initially identified in two talent ID programs – one for Tennis and one for Table Tennis.. The Tennis oriented family picked Table Tennis .. Better opportunities for young players they said. Gauzy speaks excellent English and is learning Chinese with a special tutor…! He is two time French Cadet Champion in singles – but skipped this years championships to go to China for training and competition (ITTF Pro Tour)… He is one of the most sought after players on the equipment sponsor market and is in his last year contract with the Japanese manufacturer YASAKA., Gadal is receiving daily phone calls with loaded offers for his 15 year old rising star.. One of the ideas is to build a special team with private coaches and support staff around him- Like Tennis. He simply lives the game – loves to play and has a wonderful positive energy in the court . He manages school in a very flexible schooling system tailor made to young athletes. Gymnastics, Swimming and Table Tennis are some of the sports benefitting from private tutoring and school lessons adjusted to the training schedule.. The French Table Tennis Association is paying 30-40 000 Euro per year for the services..
Now Junior finals..Mikael