Wednesday 21 September 2011

Table Tennis' Great Fighter: Jean Michel Saive

I had the amazing opportunity to interview one of the most iconic legends in the sport. Jean Michel Saive is a true hero of the sport, he has an undying passion for table tennis and is renowned for his die hard persistance with the sport as an internationally successful player. Thank you so much Jean Mi for a great interview, it was an honour for you to do this for me.

Full Name: Jean Michel Saive
Age: 41
Date Of Birth: 17/11/1969
Nation represented: Belgium
Highest World Ranking: 1

Jean Michel Saive in action

Equipment Used?
Blade: Stiga Clipper
FH Rubber: calibra lt 2,0
BH Rubber: calibra lt 2,0


How long have you been playing table tennis for, when and how did you start?
33 years, I started my first tournament 18/I0/78. I started together with my brother, our parents were both players , my father no.10 in Belgium and my mother was Belgian champion in dubbel B category when she was pregnant with me so my Ist title is a womens one haha

Who has been the biggest influence on your career so far?
My parents then my first coach M.Durello,then Milan Stencel, then M.Wang Dayong

What has been the highlight ofyour table tennis career so far?
Being ranked Number 1 in the World for 15 months in a row

What's does your training schedule for a week period involve?
This is too long to answer, this is for a book. Just say that today I must practise maybe less on time then before but now I never stop even on holliday I have to be clever and listen my body.

You love table tennis and never give up on aspiring to be the best, what is your next big goal for table tennis?
My next goal is to be in London and perform well there. Sometimes I can not believe that I will participate for the 7th time at Olympic Games.

Lobbing has a special place in your game and you are profoundly good at it. What makes you lob so much in matches, do you prefer this to attacking sometimes?
This is strange because I should stay at the table and not go back but sometimes I am behind and fighting for the points .... maybe I played too many exhibitions in my career (haha) .... but Ilove fighting for these big points as well.

What do you think is the most important thing in table tennis for becoming a successful player on the international stage?
Hard,hard,hard,hard practise .... and think table tennis all time, but most important is to enjoy all this.

How did you grow playing table tennis in Belgium? Was the table tennis strong there or did you train and play in other places too?
When I was 13years old I was already no.4 in Belgium and played in national team, then I went to play in Germany for 3 years then France 3 years then back to Belgium ..... yes I practised in many other places(Germany,France,Sweden,China,Korea ... etc)

How do you feel table tennis has changed around the world since your era at the peak of your game? Do you think it has improved or declined?
Yes it has changed,more and more competions in Asia especially in China .... TT is not growing up in Europe .... and unfortunately not enough TT in USA.

What do you think makes the Chinese so good at table tennis?
Simple, this is national sport in the biggest country in the World (number population)

What does Europe and the rest of the World need to do to raise its standard in order to compete with the Chinese players of this generation?
Back to the future for Waldner,Persson,Gatien,Rosskopf,Primorac,Saive .... haha. Seriously hard practise or find a better way of practise.

Is there an event you haven't won yet which you have been trying to win for your whole career?
Olympic Games

What motivates you to carry on competing at a high international standard?
I love to play,fight and practise

If you could go back and change anything in your table tennis career, is there anything you would choose to change?
Of course I am sad I do not have Olympic Medal but this is,was my way my career ... so no regret .... I am so how lucky and can be proud of my career

Off the Topic Questions

Who's your favourite sportsperson of all time?
So many!!! Mercks,Borg,Woods,Noah,Lemond,Lewis,Becker ....

Favourite food?
Mwambe(my motherwas born in Congo)

What do you do when you aren't playing table tennis?
I try to play golf when I have free time ... but I also help the TT Federation, I am in executive board in Belgium Olympic Committee, Member of European Athlete Olympic Commission, same for the Belgium Athletes and ITTF Athletes Commission. So I am very busy.

Dream Car?

Ideal holiday destination?
Somewhere with Sun, Sea and Golf

First thing you would do ifyou won $lmillion?
To secure my kids

Great rally between Saive and Samsonov in 2005

Your Team Mates:
Phillipe Saive, Bratanov, Cabrera, Podpinka, Sonnet in national team(not all but the best) in club:Samsonov, Primorac, Smirnov, Chila, Appelgren, Chen Z Hibin, Wosik, Fejer, Huang, Korbel, Gacina, Li ching, Oh sang eun, Wang jianjun, Kou lei, Phillipe Saive, Cabrera, Podpinka, Haldan, Pistej, Mitamura and many others

Who's the funniest player in the training hall?
Mitamura for the best copy

Who trains the hardest in the training hall?
Rosskopf, Primorac, Legout

And Lastly

Would you like to add one last tip, or an inspirational message for other table
tennis players looking to succeed?
Just Enjoy TT

Want to read more great interviews with other former World Champions, Cup Winners and Number 1's? Click for MORE INTERVIEWS.

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