Earlier today on Facebook, the Belgian team set to compete at the upcoming table tennis world championships in Beijing, China was announced by Ligue Handisport Francophone. The team is four members strong, and includes French regional players Belgians Mathieu Loicq and Marc Ledoux both of whom are Class 8 competitors. It also includes Dutch regional players Ben Despineux who is a class 7 player. The three will participate in the TM8 team event. The team is coached by Jonathan Haulotte.
Belgium is not known as a particularly strong table tennis playing country. Despineux is currently ranked twelfth in the world in his class. Ledoux is ranked tenth and Loicq is ranked fourteenth in the world in Class 8. In the overall men’s standing rankings, Ledoux is ranked 48th in the world, Loicq is ranked 56th and Despineux is ranked 83rd in the world. While twenty countries picked up at least one medal in table tennis at the 2012 Summer Paralympics, Belgium was not amongst them. All three players represented the country at those Games, which saw Belgium defeat France in the 1/8-Final only to fall to eventual gold medalists Poland 3:2 in the quarterfinals. Despineux went 1 – 1 in group play and did not advance. Loicq and Ledoux had similar fates.
Florian Van Acker is the final member of the Belgian team, competing in the Class 11 event, which is for players with intellectual disabilities. Van Acker did not compete at the 2012 Summer Paralympics.
The competition in Beijing is scheduled to start on September 6 and run until September 15. On the women’s side, Class 3 is the deepest with 18 players from Sweden, China, Croatia, Turkey, France, Great Britain, Austria, Italy, Mexico, South Korea, Indonesia and Jordan scheduled to take part. On the men’s individual side, Class 3 is also the deepest with 24 players from Germany, China, Great Britain, France, Sweden, South Korea, Argentina, Austria, South Korea, Hong Kong, Spain, Ukraine, Romania, Jordan, Israel, Thailand, Costa Rica, Egypt and Australia scheduled to compete.