Former world table tennis champion Jean-Philippe Gatien, 47, had a ‘beyond expectation’ exchange with fans in Ho Chi Minh City on Monday during his visit to Vietnam.
The Frenchman, who is famous for his superb left-handed forehand smash, told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper that he was touched to see the sentiments Vietnamese fans and players saved for him.
His talk with fans at the Ho Ngoc Thuan table tennis club in Ho Chi Minh City’s Binh Thanh District on Monday was scheduled to start at 9:30 am, but over 50 fans flocked to the venue from 8:00 am.
The talk was previously planned to last for an hour, but the star of the meeting could only leave for Tan Son Nhat International Airport after 12:00 pm, less than two hours before his flight back to France..
He was welcomed by fans including famous former table tennis players from Vietnam such as Le Van Tiet, Nguyen Vinh Hien, and Tran Van My.
Fans asked him a series of questions about his career, life, and secrets to defeat his Chinese rivals.
He also staged four friendly matches at the club and exhausted himself giving signatures on jerseys and rackets of fans.
Though he was almost late in leaving for the airport, Gatien said he was happy to "receive" more competitors to stage more friendly matches.
Jean-Philippe Gatien won gold medals at the World Table Tennis Championship in Gothenburg, Sweden in 1993 and the Table Tennis World Cup in Taipei, China in 1994.