the Lebrun brothers, table tennis prodigies, continue to grow

Alexis and Felix Lebrun the two biggest promises of French

Félix and Alexis Lebrun are leading the French table tennis team at the World Team Championships in Busan (South Korea), which begins this Friday, February 16. Their progress continues at an astonishing speed… until they have a real chance of an Olympic medal this summer in Paris?

3 mins

In the land of table tennis, the kings remain Asian, but the new princes are French. Alexis Lebrun, 20 years old, and his brother Félix, 17 years old, are currently holding all the promises that the French “ping” saw in them. The youngest has even surpassed them lately.

His second title on the WTT circuit, in Goa (India) at the end of January, made Félix the 6th player in the world. This is the best ranking for a Frenchman since the unforgettable Jean-Philippe Gatien, world number one in July 1992 following his silver medal in singles at the Barcelona Olympic Games. The only European in the top 10, Félix Lebrun is today only ahead of the formidable Chinese. From hopeful status, he rose in a few months to French number one, and a credible chance of a medal in singles at the Paris Olympic Games (July 26 – August 11) this summer. But the young prodigy prefers to remain lucid.

It’s true that I’ve had a lot of victories lately.…” he smiled during an exchange with journalists before flying to the Korean Worlds. “ These are my first titles on the senior circuit. Obviously, it’s a moment that will stay in my career! But I want to continue to progress, to climb the world rankings, to win as many matches as possible. Maybe there will be more difficult times, but for the moment I’m not really planning ahead. »

“When we play in the final, I’m the happiest in the world! »

Not far behind him, big brother Alexis is not to be outdone. Twenty-second player in the world, the eldest is not offended by the small lead taken by his best opponent. He also emerged victorious from their last official confrontation, in the quarter-final of a tournament bringing together the 16 best European players in January (4-2). But above all the two brothers do not cultivate any rivalry. Alexis sees no problem in facing Félix in competition and even imagines a reunion at the top at the Games…

In general, I’m happy when we meet », Says the reigning French champion. “ Sometimes I would prefer that he was in another part of the table, so that we could face each other as late as possible. And when we play in the final, I’m the happiest in the world! Or even before… If we manage to go far at the Games, that would be magnificent… »

Leaders in the French team

Their joint rise has in any case more than positive repercussions for the French table tennis team. Beyond the light that the Lebruns bring to the discipline, their success lifts the entire group to the top. A godsend when it comes time to attack the world team championships in Busan. “ For three or four months, we have become the 4th nation in the world in the rankings! » rejoices Nathanaël Molin, coach and captain of the French men’s team. “ These are the guys who went for this performance, thanks to their ranking and their results. This positions us better than for the last Worlds, and therefore we must have ambition for this competition. »

Before dreaming of a Parisian charm, the stated ambition is to bring back a medal from South Korea. Which would already be an exceptional performance. No French team has managed to reach a podium in the world team championship since 1997.