Jean-Michel Saive at the Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games (Photo: World Table Tennis)
A host of accolades to his credit in the playing arena, on the evening of Friday 10th September, Jean-Michel Saive was elected President of the Belgian Olympic and Interfederal Committee (BOIC).
He follows Pierre-Olivier Beckers, head of the organisation for 17 years.
At the election Saive received 77 of the votes cast at the extraordinary general meeting; his one rival being Heidi Rakels, judo bronze medal in the women’s middleweight division at the Barcelona 1992 Olympic Games.
“From last September I was the only candidate, Heidi registered her nomination on 8th July, two days before the deadline, it was a big surprise for everyone, me included!” Jean-Michel Saive
Now 51 years old, commencing in 1988, he competed in seven consecutive Olympic Games, in both Atlanta in 1996 and Athens in 2004 he carried the nation’s flag at the opening ceremony; facts that underline his credibility for the post.
“Seven medals, our best since 1948, we are also pleased that in Tokyo we had 26 top eight positions and seven fourth positions. Now we try all out to do even better in Paris but it’s a quite different situation to normal, Paris is less than three years away.” Jean-Michel Saive
Moreover, don’t think of Jean-Michel Saive just as a table tennis player; he is genuinely interested in sport. He is a veritable mine of information, whether it be cycling, tennis or whatever, it is yet another facet that makes him ideal for the presidential post.
“Now the immediate focus is the Winter Olympic Games; we are not strong in that area; we do have a speedskater.” Jean-Michel Saive
The athlete in question is Bart Swings; he is the world record holder for 10,000 metres inline speed skating; at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, he won a silver.
A new challenge awaits, as they say: allez Jean-Mi, allez Jean-Mi.