Poitiers hosts the French Para Table Tennis Championship

Throughout the weekend in Poitiers, nearly 400 athletes with mental disabilities take part in the French Para Table Tennis Championship. This is the last national meeting before the European Games scheduled for this summer in Poland.

This time it’s the right one. Postponed twice in 2020 and then 2021 due to the health crisis linked to COVID-19, the French Para Table Tennis Championship is finally taking place. From June 10 to 12, 2022, 350 para athletes compete in Poitiers during singles and doubles tournaments.

Coming from 97 adapted sports clubs and associations throughout France, the para-pongists compete in three classifications: AB, BC and CD. During the tournament, depending on their classification, they play singles and doubles matches.

For the nine para-athletes of the TTACC, the table tennis club of Poitiers, selected to participate in the French championship, these three days of tournament are a culmination. “They trained once a week, they all qualified at once and today they are so proud to be there”, explains Laure Le Mallet, coach of the TTACC.

They had to learn to manage their emotions. They have made a lot of progress, they have gained in autonomy.

Laure Le Mallet, TTACC coach.

Present every year at the tournament, the TTACC recorded its qualification record this year. « Usually we always have three or four who pass the qualifications. This year they are nine, it’s huge”, says Laure Le Mallet. For her, this tournament is necessarily beneficial to players with mental disabilities. “They haven’t all been playing ping pong for a long time. Our priority was to teach them to play doubles. They had to learn to manage their emotions. They have made a lot of progress, they have gained autonomy”.

Loud music and a friendly atmosphere: despite the anxiety of the competition, the athletes are in a jovial mood this Saturday. “After two years without seeing each other, it’s a big party for them. They are all happy to see each other again”, says Elodie Philipponneau, from the departmental committee for adapted sport in Vienne.

Since the end of the health crisis, the public can once again attend sports competitions. Another highlight of the championship. “Admission is free so we did not count the number of spectators, but we had a lot of people and we will have them until Sunday”, assures Elodie Philipponneau.

Beyond the party, the stakes of this championship are high for some athletes. Especially for those who are part of the French adapted sports team. They are a good ten to participate in the championship of France, like Anne Mizet, Léa Ferney and Lucas Créange. The last two returned medalists from the last Paralympic Games in Tokyo, Japan. They hope to leave with the title of champions of France.

They hope to win the title of champions of France where some dream of beating the medalists of Tokyo.

Pascal Griffault, national para table tennis coach.

They are the stars of the tournament”, recognizes Pascal Griffault. The national para table tennis coach accompanies the French adapted sports team and rubs shoulders with champions when preparing for international events. “When they are on a table, there is always a special atmosphere, with all eyes on them. They have become the standard bearers of the discipline”, he explains.

Who will win the coveted title of champion of France? Answer tomorrow Sunday early afternoon. At the end of the national tournament in Poitiers, the para-pongists of the French team are expected at the European adapted sports games. They will take place in Krakow, Poland from July 14 to 26.

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