23 Oct 2016

Rising to the occasion playing at a new level; Emmanuel Lebesson won the Men’s Singles title at the Liebherr 2016 European Championships in Budapest, Hungary on Sunday 23rd October.

The no.14 seed and thus very much an outsider, at the final hurdle, he beat compatriot, Simon Gauzy, the no.6 seed, in five games (14-12, 9-11, 11-7, 11-3, 11-6) to arrest the title.

by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor

Success for Emmanuel Lebesson was most unexpected; his victory is arguably the biggest surprise since England’s John Hilton won in Berne in 1980, an occasion when France suffered.

At the semi-final stage Jacques Secretin, who had won four years earlier in 1976 in Prague, was mesmerised by the Englishman, who I am pleased to report is now recovering from cancer.

Notably when Jacques Secretin won in Prague, Christian Martin also won bronze; he was beaten by Anatoli Strokatov at the semi-final stage.

Bronze for Christian Martin; that has been also the colour for one further notable French name; in 1998 in Eindhoven, Jean-Philippe Gatien was beaten in the penultimate round by Croatia’s Zoran Primorac.

“I did not start the match very well and that is the last thing I wanted to happen; if you gave Simon the chance to lead, he will just increase the pressure. At the end of the opening game I managed to win only one point on my service. Only God helped me win that game. Latter Simon recovered, but I raised my game to higher level; from the third game I played the best table tennis of my life. It was incredible match”, Emmanuel Lebesson

Now Emmanuel Lebesson joins the illustrious list to become the second ever Frenchman to win the Men’s Singles title at a European Championships; Simon Gauzy becomes the country’s first ever silver medallist.

A first all French European Championships Men’s Singles final and there was another first.

Emmanuel Lebesson and Simon Gauzy are members of the same national team and thus well known to each other. Quite amazingly they have never met on the international stage and never in the French League; the meeting in Budapest was a first, a first in more ways than one!

Liebherr EC Simon Gauzy Emmanuel Lebesson