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Jean-Philippe Gatien: See you at the XV Memorial of Nikolai Nikitin!

A little less than a month is left before the start of one of the most significant events in the Russian calendar - XV Memorial of Nikolai Nikitin, which will be held in St. Petersburg from 24th to 29th of November 2014.

Every year the competition gathers the best young talents not only in our country but also from abroad. Also this event has already been included in the calendar of the International Table Tennis Federation, and the results would be shortchanged in the international ranking.

But the most important fact for all of us is that St. Petersburg and our country from the next year are ready to show the world a new tournament from the series of high-grade ITTF Junior Circuit: Russian Junior & Cadet Open. And the current tournament is rehearsal and the presentation of the future world tour.

Accepting of the applications from the members of the Memorial was finished in October 24, exactly in one month before the beginning of the tournament. More than 280 applications were received to the participation in the tournament, but only 224 sportsmen will take part in it.

16 junior teams (boys and girls) and 14 cadets will perform in the team competitions. In individual competitions we will see 64 junior among men and 64 junior among women, and 48 from the cadets of each gender.

The final list of participants, work on which is almost finished by the organizing committee, will be published at the official site of the Memorial these days. I note that Russia as the hostess granted the right to put two teams in each category.

Among the participating countries, we see Russia, Israel, Nigeria, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Lithuania. Also, we are very glad to inform you that in the current year the world champion will visit the Memorial. Jean-Philippe Gatien is a legend of the world table tennis, which (surprise!) will arrive in St. Petersburg not alone.

I managed to contact Jean-Philippe, who kindly answered a few questions regarding of the forthcoming competition.

- Jean-Philippe, you are going to visit as an honored guest XV Memorial of Nikolai Nikitin, like the last year. What could you say about the level of the organization of the tournament and game conditions?

- I'm definitely sure that the organization of the Memorial is very good. Last year, I was genuinely impressed with the hall, where there is everything you need to make the players feel completely comfortable. Also, I felt and want to mention one very important point: a real love for table tennis from the all those people who organize these events. Without a doubt, all players will get a stunning experience that will be fruitful for their sport career.

- Did you see the sights of the one of the most beautiful cities in the world, St. Petersburg? What did you like the most?

- Yes, the last year I was fascinated by the acquaintance with St. Petersburg, one of the most beautiful cities in the world in terms of history, culture and architecture. Unfortunately, I could not stay here a little bit longer, as I wanted to. Nevertheless in my memory and in the memory of my phone (all photos which I did) I save the visit of the Hermitage. For me it is one of the greatest museums in the world, I have visited in my life.

- Jean-Philippe, what would you like to say to all young players who will participate in the XV Memorial Nikolai Nikitin this year?

- I wish all of them all the best in this competition. Participation in the international tournaments is always exciting and it is a valuable experience. The level of the Russian players in these age groups is very good, and therefore the level of the tournament will be also very high. This is a good opportunity for all member countries to compare the levels of the development of table tennis in his country with other countries. Athletes will compete in a passionate atmosphere, and I urge them to show all the best and use the opportunity to be the first! Those who are not lucky enough (after all, the winner is always one), let remember that the strongest is not always the one who wins, but those who does not give up after the defeat!

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Alexei Lomaev / FNTR. Photo by the author. In the photo: the legend of the world table tennis Jean-Philippe Gatien