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Other Events - 5 Mar 2015

Halmstad celebrates Belgian success


Belgium’s Jean-Michel SAIVE beat the hometown hero, Jörgen PERSSON, to win the ITTF-Legends Tour tournament in the Swedish city of Halmstad. At the final hurdle, Jean-Michel SAIVE emerged victorious in four games (11–8, 4–11, 11–9, 11–7). Both present at

Belgium’s Jean-Michel SAIVE beat the hometown hero, Jörgen PERSSON, to win the ITTF-Legends Tour tournament in the Swedish city of Halmstad. At the final hurdle, Jean-Michel SAIVE emerged victorious in four games (11–8, 4–11, 11–9, 11–7).

Both present at the recent GAC Group 2015 ITTF World Tour Qatar Open in Doha, arguably gave the two finalists the edge over their illustrious rivals. Nevertheless, for both their path to the gold medal contest was by no means without moments when the eventual decision was in some doubt.

At the quarter-final stage Jörgen PERSSON accounted for Germany’s Jörg ROSSKOPF in four games (12–10, 11–9, 9–11, 11–3) and thus repeated the success he enjoyed when they last met on the international scene. They confronted each other at the LIEBHERR 2004 World Team Championships in Doha when Jörgen PERSSON had also emerged victorious.

Jörgen PERSSON overcame Frenchman Jean-Philippe Gatien, again in a four games duel (11–9, 10–12, 11–6, 11–6), to reserve his place in the final.

Meanwhile, in the opposite half of the draw, at the semi-final stage Jean-Michel SAIVE overcame Sweden’s Jan-Ove WALDNER (11–6, 13–15, 11–8, 12–10), to reverse one memorable decision and repeat another.

In the inaugural ITTF Legends Tour tournament staged in Jemeppe-sur-Meuse, last May, Jan-Ove WALDNER had beaten Jean-Michel SAIVE in the final; however 20 years earlier Jean-Michel SAIVE had enjoyed what may be considered his greatest hour. He beat Jan-Ove Waldner in Birmingham’s Indoor Arena in central England, to be anointed European champion. 

“I’ve prepared for this tournament because even if we enjoy being together, we all want to win”, said Jean-Michel SAIVE. “I know that the other players consider that I was supposed to be the favourite because I’m still fighting on the ITTF World Tour but as you saw I lost in front of my own crowd in May.”

Wounded; in Halmstad, Jean-Michel SAIVE had an extra motivation and most certainly he had taken the tournament very seriously. “I wanted to get my revenge; to be fit and prepared for this event, I decided not to play the Belgium Championship for the first time in 32 years”, added Jean-Michel SAIVE. “After 25 Belgian titles, I preferred to focus on winning my first ITTF Legends Tour tournament.”

Simply the character of Jean-Michel Saive is underlined, he enjoys the battle, he enjoys the heat of competition. Will he ever change? I hope not.

The win recorded by Jean-Michel SAIVE turned back the clock; it was same one round earlier when Jan-Ove WALDNER played China’s Jiang Jialiang.

He reversed the decision of the final of the Men’s Singles event at the 1987 World Championships when he had lost to the man who at the time was the defending champion. “It is amazing is to see so many kids coming and watch; this is also the target of the Tour and I’m glad for it”, said Jan-Ove WALDNER. “On the sport point of view, I was so happy to play against Jiang Jialiang because like many fans, the 1987 World final was a wonderful final; I wanted to play one more time against him.”

Defeat for JIANG Jialang but clearly the man who celebrated his 51st birthday during his stay in Sweden had enjoyed the experience and was delighted to re-kindle an old rivalry “Guys, I want to thank you for all the positive moments we spend and share together”, was the toast of Jiang Jialiang at the ensuing dinner. “I must also admit that I’m your best fan!”

Furthermore, he made a promise. “Next time I’ll win!” he concluded.

Meanwhile, for Philippe SAIVE, all the time and effort had proved most worthwhile; the headmaster was proud of the occasion. “When you look at the people, they are so happy to share these moments of emotion, nostalgia and respect for the history of our sport”, he reflected. “We’ll work even harder to make more events possible.”

A success, the estimated attendance approached the 2,000 spectator mark.

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