Table Tennis: World champions stunned as France take European title

Click to follow
The Independent Online
France caused a major upset upset at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham last night when they beat the holders and world champions, Sweden, 4-3 to win the European title, writes James Leigh.

The Swedes missed their former world champion, Jorgen Persson, and although France's reigning world champion, Jean-Philippe Gatien, was beaten both by the Olympic champion, Jan-Ove Waldner, and by Peter Karlsson, the French were too strong in depth for the Swedes.

Earlier Matthew Syed climbed a cliff face for the second successive day while Alan Cooke tested out Jorg Rosskopf's readiness to begin the defence of his men's singles title tomorrow, but England still lost their final match 4-2 to Germany.

Their men thus finished fourth, an excellent achievement in what many regard as the strongest men's Europeans there have ever been. 'I think the men's world rankings prove this,' the England manager, Donald Parker, said. 'We have done well for both men and women to earn medals and now we must prepare to try to win more in what is basically another tournament.'

Yesterday's evidence suggested it would be unwise to rule out Syed. He is close to the world champion, Jean-Philippe Gatien, in the draw, a man whom he has several times beaten. The Oxford University student's alert and cleverly varied defence carried him to a 13- 21, 21-12, 22-20 victory over last year's German national runner- up, Richard Prause.

EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIPS (Birmingham): Men's Team event (matches to decide final team event places): 1-2: France 4 Sweden 3. 3-4: Germany 4 England 2. (Ger names first: G Dreher lost to A Cooke 12-21, 13-21; J Rosskopf bt A Eden 21-18, 25-23; R Prause lost to M Syed 21-13, 12-21, 20-22; Rosskopf and S Fetzner bt C Prean and Cooke 21-15, 21-15; Rosskopf bt Cooke 15-21, 21-13, 21-15; Prause bt Eden 21-14, 21-19.) 5-6: Hungary 4 Russia 0. 7-8: Belgium 4 Poland 3. 9-10: Czech Republic 4 Netherlands 1. 11-12: Austria 4 Greece 0.