Jean-Michel Saive

Jean-Michel Saive bigraphy, stories - Belgian table tennis player

Jean-Michel Saive : biography

17 November 1969 –

Jean-Michel Saive (born 17 November 1969) is a Belgian professional table tennis player.

Born in Liège in a table tennis playing family, Saive was predestined to become a very good table tennis player and began playing as a small boy. His father was the tenth ranking Belgian player and his mother won the Belgian ladies’ doubles championships when she was pregnant with him.

At the age of thirteen Saive was the fourth ranking Belgian player and joined the national team. In 1985 he was ranked best player in Belgium, a place which he has kept until today (2011) without interruption. In 1994 he made it to world number one for 515 days (from 9 February 1994 to 8 June 1995 and from 26 March 1996 to 24 April 1996).

Jean-Michel Saive has won a total of 130 medals (51 gold, 38 silver and 41 bronze) in international singles tournaments. Some of his important titles are:

  • A European Championship (1994) in Birmingham (United Kingdom)
  • A Europe "Top 12" (1994) in Arezzo (Italy)
  • Two European leagues with Belgium (1994 and 1995)
  • Six European Championship Club Cups with his Club La Villette Charleroi (1994, 1996, 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2004)
  • Nineteen Belgian Championships with his Club La Villette Charleroi
  • A victory at the World Pro Tour in 2001
  • Two victories at the "Qatar Open" (1996 and 2002)

He was also individual world vice champion in 1993, finalist at the World Cup in 1994 and 2003 and he was finalist at the world championship for teams with Belgium in 2001.

He participated in seven consecutive Summer Olympic Games, from 1988, when table tennis became an official Olympic sport in Seoul, to 2012 in London. At the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games 1996 and 2004 he was the flag bearer of the Belgian team. For the 2008 Summer Olympic Games, the 20 highest ranked ITTF players were to be selected for the Olympics. Saive expected to be selected as he was tied in 20th position together with the Swede Jörgen Persson and there was no rule to decide what to do in case of ties. The ITTF decided they needed to play an extra playoff to determine who got the last spot. However, they refused to play as they agreed they should both get a ticket. The ITTF then recalculated the rankings and placed Persson in 20th position and Saive in 21st. Eventually, Saive did play an extra qualification tournament in Budapest, finishing third and thus qualified for his sixth successive Summer Olympics. Both Saive and Persson, along with Croatian Zoran Primorac, were the first only table tennis players to compete at six Olympics, having been at all Games since the sport was introduced in 1988.

His successes made him the best Belgian table tennis player. He is also considered to be one of Belgium’s most prolific athletes as he was elected as Sports Personality of the Year 1991 and 1994. Jean-Michel Saive is known for his victories but also for his sportsmanship. He was awarded the UNESCO World Award of Fair Play in 1989.

His younger brother Philippe Saive is also a table tennis player, albeit less successful.