2/2/2010 - Silver medallist in the Men’s Singles event at the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games and Men’s Doubles bronze medallist eight years later in Sydney; Jean-Philippe Gatien of France is the “Table Tennis Role Model” for the Youth Olympic Games.
The Athlete Role Model is crucial for the Youth Olympic Games Culture and Education Programme and the overall experience participants in the event.
Each Athlete Role Model identified by an International Federation will receive a specially designed individual programme which will include activities both within the athlete’s own sport and in other sports.
Therefore the Athlete Role Model will have many opportunities to meet young people, give advice and share experiences.
Each International Federation Nominates
Organised by the Singapore Youth Olympic Games Committee each International Federation will nominate an Athlete Role Model and then determine the exact duties to be fulfilled.
The International Olympic Committee believes the Athlete Role Model should have good communication skills and be ready and willing to meet young athletes and perform such activities as signing autographs, pose for pictures and answer questions.
Furthermore, the Athlete Role Model should be an enthusiastic individual and have an interest in developing young athletes being clearly aware of the role’s importance; whilst also exemplifying the Olympic values, both on and off the field of play.
In addition the Athlete Role Model must also be willing to share his or her life story.
Born on Wednesday 16th October 1968 in Alès; Jean-Philippe Gatien, who started to play table tennis at the age of five, most certainly fulfils the stated requirements
In 1986 he made his debut in the European Championships being a member of the French team that gained second place; one year later he made his first appearance in the World Championships, competing New Delhi.
No medals came his way on Indian soil but six years later in the Swedish city of Gothenburg it was a very different story; he won the Men’s Singles title beating Belgium’s Jean-Michel Saive in a contest that went the full distance.
Using his speed and his rapier like fast forehand attack, Jean-Philippe Gatien was at the vanguard of French success.
He was D'Artagnan with three musketeers in support, Athos, Porthos, and Aramis; alias Patrick Chila, Damien Eloi and Christophe Legout.
One year prior to his victory in Gothenburg he was the silver medallist in the Men’s Singles event at the Barcelona Olympic Games and with Patrick Chlia, at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, clinched the Men’s Doubles bronze medal. In the crucial contest to determine third place the French pairing beat Korea’s Lee Chul Seung and Ryu Seung Min.
The win somewhat defied table tennis doubles thinking; two left handers in harness is not a favoured combination. Gatien and Chila proved two left handers could combine to be successful at the very highest level.
It was one of many titles they were to win at both national and international level, being a particularly potent force on the ITTF Pro Tour.
Silver in the Men’s Singles event in Barcelona, followed by gold in Gothenburg sparked a halcyon period in French male tennis.
Gatien was at the helm with three musketeers in support; France won the bronze medal in the Men’s Team event at the 1995 World Championships in Tianjin and two years later in the English city of Manchester they secured the silver medal. Meanwhile, at the European Championships in 1994 in Birmingham and in 1998 in Eindhoven they secured the Men’s Team title at the European Championships.
Peak of Career
Winner of the Men’s Singles title at the Mediterranean Games in both 1991 and 1993, victor at the Men’s World Cup in Taipei in 1994 and the number one spot at the Europe Top 12 in 1997 in Eindhoven; the 1990s saw Gatien very much at the peak of his career.
However as the new millennium started injuries plagued his progress and eventually in 2004 he announced his retirement.
The exertions of top class sport, had finally taken their toll on the photogenic Gallic sportsman; always humble in victory, magnanimous in defeat, Jean-Philippe Gatien became a French hero and lifted the sport to new heights in his country.
Well mannered at all time, he was the true sportsman, adored by his nation, respected by his opponents and guided for most of his career by Michel Gadal, Jean-Philippe Gatien provided table tennis with the perfect image.
Competitive table tennis over, in November 2006, Jean-Philippe Gatien initiated “Ping Attitude”, supported by the French Table Tennis Federation and the Jean-Luc Lagardere Foundation; the project helped young people from disadvantaged districts excel in table tennis, particularly the youngsters experiencing financial difficulties.
A Credit to Sport
“Ping Attitude” underlines his interest in young people and that desire to help combined with his exemplary record in the playing arena makes Jean-Philippe Gatien an Athlete Role Model of whom table tennis throughout the world can be extremely proud.
He was and still is a credit to sport.