French table tennis legend Jacques Secrétin dies aged 71
The French table tennis federation (FFTT) led the tributes on Wednesday to the former European and world champion Jacques Secrétin who has died at the age of 71.
"Secrétin, a name that will not be forgotten and that French table tennis will not forget," said the FFTT.
The French national Olympic committee (CNOSF) hailed Secrétin as a legend of table tennis and of French sport.
He was born on 18 mars 1949 in Carvin in northern France and was still in his teens when he won his first national singles title in 1966. Another 16 domestic crowns would follow until 1986.
During that sequence he claimed a European championship in 1976. A world title came the next year in the mixed doubles with Claude Bergeret.
His renown increased when he and former table tennis champion Vincent Purkart set up Le show Secrétin-Purkart.
Together they toured the world highlighting the tricks of the table tennis trade until 2007.
"It was a period of life that was exceptional," Secrétin recalled. "I played in front of 15,000 spectators. It was a real promotion for table tennis."
The yen to perform, play and promote table tennis never diminished. Secrétin was a constant visitor to table tennis clubs and prisons where he would be equally at ease instructing youngsters or inmates.
Jean-Michel Blanquer, France's education, youth and sports minister, also paid tribute on Wednesday.
He said Secrétin was an immense champion who worked tirelessly for the cause and prestige of table tennis in France.