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Thursday, 14 February 2013

Interview with Christophe Legout

Christophe Legout was of the generation Legout-Gatien-Chila, who has been champion of europe 1994, and vice champion of the world in 1997. It is three-time French champion in men's single, and multiple winner in doubles. Here is his interview:

"I support TTImpossible !"
photo by: Jean-Denis Beucher
1. Where and when have you started to play Table Tennis?
I started at 11 years old. I was on a cruise with my parents and there were 2 tables on the boat on which I wanted to play all the time. Coming back home, because we had no club in our town, Vence, my parents simply decided to start one.

2. Who or what influenced you to play?
My parents used to travel and my mom used to win some tournaments sometimes...I was playing on our house deck and one day they invited one of their friends, with a very low ranking, who I beat.

3. What was your 1st club? And your evolution in it?
I started in Vence, in Alpes Maritimes. We had no coach and we had one table to start and play on Mondays 8-11pm. After a year I was among the best of the club. I played another year in Vence before joining a club in Nice where a really good coach was in charge: Jean-Louis PELLINGHELLI.

4. Who are you training daily?
I have been training for 23 years (!) at INSEP in Paris region. All the French team trains there, 2 sessions a day.

5. What blade and rubbers are you using?
I play with Butterfly material, my sponsor for the last 17 years. I play with a wood named after me, the same than Timo Boll: the Timo Boll Spirit with Tenergy 05 on both sides.

6. What was your best world ranking?
I was #14 world player in 1999 and 2001.

7. What is your play style?
My style is based on a wide range of serves, a good forehand and a very good footwork.

8. When and where did you play your best match?
I think I played my best match with Kreanga at the 2005 World Championships in Shanghai. A match that I lost 4-2 after having dominated all games in front of 10,000 people.

9. Can you summarize your participation at the Spanish Open where you made it to the final?
I stated beating Jeremy Petiot, a french player in Pro B at Villeneuve sur Lot
4-1, then I won Quentin Robinot 4-3 after trailing 3-1. In the 1/4 I won his brother Alexandre 4-2 and in the semis the Swede Nordberg 4-1 before losing Matsumoto 4-1 in the final.

...and the Austrian Open?
In Austria, I beat a Slovak player and a Czech one in the round robin before losing OYA (Japan) 4-2.

10. Do you think those results can qualify you for the World Championships in Paris?
I think I scored some points but not enough to be certain to get in.

11. What are your goals this year with the French club Istres? Present us in a few words your team mates.
I have been playing at Istres for 8 seasons.This year we have in the team Chen Jian, Antoine Hachard and myself; our coach is Stephane Lebrun. Right now we are #6 in Pro A. We are also qualified in the Euro cup, in the 1/4 finals. The goal is to be also qualified for the Euro Cup next season.

12. Can you tell us your results with that club?
This season I think I only lost a bit less than 1/2 of my matches and I lost only once in the Euro cup against the Croatian Gacina.

13. Who is your favorite player?
I used to love Rosskopf but more for what he represented. Today, I have a lot of fun watching the best rallies on Youtube.

14. What is your next big goal in Table Tennis?
My next and maybe last greater goal is to be qualified for the World Championships in Paris (04.13/04/20 at Bercy).

15. What are the most defining moments and events in your carreer?
Our 1st team Euro title in 1994, our victory with Levallois in the National Champions clubs Euro Cup, my first participation in the Olympic games in 1996 in Atlanta, my win at the French International event in 1997, my 1st French champion title in 2005 and my qualification for Beijing Olympic Games in 2008.

16. How do you physically and mentally prepare before getting into a match?
For the last 15 years I get ready always the same way: about 30 minutes before the match I physically warm up in the locker room and get mentally ready; I read again my notes about the player(s) and I think of the tactics I will use during the match.

17. You recently became the godfather of the "Pole Espoirs" (youth group) of the city of Tours; where did that idea come from?
I always had very good contacts with the people in charge of the Center Region League and the 4S club of Tours. I did not hesitate a second when they honored me with that proposition especially since with time they became really good friends.

18. Do you think about after your playing carreer? would you like to be a coach?
We talk a lot about this with Damien Eloi and Patrick Chila...with my age, a lot of people ask me the question. Right now I am a player. I am also re-negotiating my contract for 2 more years; however it is obvious that I want to train people, transmit what I learnt, help the young players coming up...But I also adore anything related to cars so maybe a combination of the two would be ideal.

19. Last, what are the next competition you will participate in?
Tuesday we'll play in Pro A at Argentan, a direct competitor. Thursday we'll be in Prague for the rematch of the Euro cup. Tuesday the 12th we play in Istres against Saint-Maur and on the 19th I'll play the Pro Tour event in Qatar...Not much time to get bored :)

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