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Courtesy of Butterfly.tt
A decade later, the LIEBHERR World Championships returns to Paris, to Bercy.
Butterfly will be the ball supplier for the tournament as they were in 2011 and also will be in 2015; meanwhile for the World Team Championships in 2014, Butterfly will be table provider just as they were in 2012.
The prominence of Butterfly follows an agreement with the International Table Tennis Federation and, of course, in 2003 it was a player supported by Butterfly who stole the show.
The tournament is always remembered for the efforts of Austria�s Werner Schlager in winning the Men�s Singles title in quite sensational circumstances; the victories of China�s Wang Liqin and Kong Linghui plus the sight of Korea�s Joo Se Hyuk seated on the floor, when the Austrian star had secured the vital last point live long in the memory.
We tend to forget that China�s Wang Nan completed a clean sweep of titles, she won the Women�s Singles event, the Women�s Doubles with Zhang Yining and the Mixed Doubles with Ma Lin. Nothing could match the incredible efforts of Werner Schlager.
Furthermore, the tournament was at the vanguard of a new era for the World Championships; it was only the second time that only individual events had been staged. The first had been by default in Eindhoven in 1999 when at last minute the Dutch city had replaced Belgrade owing to civil war in the former Yugoslavia.
The effect had been that in 2000 the team events only had been held in Kuala Lumpur but the whole show was in evidence in Osaka in 2001; the application from the Japanese city having been approved when discussions to split the World Championships, so that the event became annual, were in the embryonic stage.
A new era for the World Championships but for France it was very much the wane of the established; in 1997 at the World Championships in Manchester, selecting principally from the quartet of Jean-Philippe Gatien, Patrick Chila, Damien Eloi and Christophe Legout, France had secured the silver medal in the Men�s Team event, one place better than two years earlier in Tianjin.
In Bercy in 2003, the celebrated team was on the wane; ten years later it is quite the reverse scenario. Led by the tall Adrien Mattenet, a player sponsored by Butterfly, France has an exciting group of young players; their boys dominating proceedings at this year�s Str�ck European Youth Championships.
However if there is one exciting player who will be on duty, above all others, it is China�s Zhang Jike, the most complete player the world has seen since Kong Linghui; both players being supported by Butterfly.
Ten years ago we had heard of Zhang Jike but his name did not resonate; he was one of many fledgling Chinese teenagers hoping to make the grade; in 2002 he had won the Boys� Singles title at the first ever ITTF Cadet Challenge, staged in Hungary.
A decade later, he has achieved what no other man has achieved. He is the only reigning Men�s Singles World champion to become Olympic champion and the only one ever to be World champion, Olympic Games gold medalist and World Cup titleholder at the same time.
The aspiring 14 year old in 2002 is now the team leader.
In 2013 he will undoubtedly defend his Men�s Singles title in Bercy in front of an anticipated full house as was the auditorium ten years ago.
The tiered seating at the LIEBHERR World Championships in Bercy in 2003 was full to capacity; in 2011 at the �sold out� signs were erected five months before the first ball was hit in the LIEBHERR Men�s World Cup.
No doubt in 2013 the French and from those beyond the country�s borders will flock to Bercy; a memorable tournament awaits.