Emmanuel LEBESSON reached the new hightsPhoto: Richard Kalosai
LIEBHERR 2016 ITTF European Championships in Budapest
New European champion Emmanuel LEBESSON of France, reached the Continental hights at the LIEBHERR 2016 ITTF European Championships in Budapest after the fantastic run he had in the past year.
"It started with the European Games in Baku last year. I went there as a third or fourth player since we followed the rankings. That is why I played only in the Team's Event. No one expected we could clinch the silver medal. It was a great tournament for us. Portugal's team were better in the final but in the semis we beat Germany and I prevailed against Dimitrij OVTCHAROV. The victory over the top player gave me extra boost of confidence and it also proved how dangerous I am in the best of five matches"explained LEBESSON.
For the World Championships in Kuala Lumpur, played earlier this year, LEBESSON has mixed emotions.
"We played in the quarterfinal of the Team's Event against England. Few hours before that quarters I became father. I was overwhelmed with the emotions."
In the full distance, nail biting match it was France who had dream start -Simon GAUZY beat Paul DRINKHALL. Liam PITCHFORD brought England back to the game with the victory over LEBESSON. In the decisive match DRINKHALL overcame LEBESSON. Paul took a fifth match point in the deciding game to secure the victory.
DRINKHALL stated after: "Yes I was 10-6 in the fifth but I won 13-11 and that is what counts!"
LEBESSON addmitted:"That defeat haunted us for days, weeks...hope the bitter taste will not last for years."
At the Olympic qualifications he succeded and booked his place in Rio.
"It was a dream come true, but unfortunately I am not very happy with my performane in Brazil. I lost to Adrian CRISAN in the second Round. For the place in the quarters we lost against England again. It was the extension of the nightmare,"said LEBESSON.
LEBESSON beat Paul DRINKHALL, but eventualy France lost full distance duel.
"After Rio I did not have enough time to practice for the European championships. In addition I did not beleive I could be very good in the seven games duels. The best I could hope was the place in the quarterfinal. I could not imagine I will reach the gold. However, already in the first round which is usually very difficult for me, I felt my game is on the top. I though I could do something in Budapest, but for sure I was not thinking about the gold,"added LEBESSON.
In all French final he beat Simon GAUZY and on Monday he was welcomed at the at the Airport Charles de Gaulle as a hero.
"I still can not realize what happened on Sunday. Seeing all these people at the airport helped me realize what I did, all the friends who came to welcome me warmed my heart."