Week 84 (9 - 15 May 2015)
The Chair of the EOC Athletes Commission, Jean-Michel Saive, is a sports administrator with a difference. A former world number 1 in table tennis, Saive, at the age of 45, still competes amongst the elite in his sport.
The next event on the seven-time Olympian’s list is competing in the Baku 2015 European Games in Azerbaijan – which he has also helped organise.
Saive is an ex-officio member of the EOC Executive Committee and participates in ExCo meetings relating to the European Games. Having helped bring the Games to life, he will soon get the chance to put his and his colleagues’ work to the ultimate test by competing in the Games themselves.
This week Saive participated in the 36th EOC Seminar and Extraordinary General Assembly in Belek, Turkey, where he elaborated on his dual role at Baku 2015. Speaking to JTA at the EOC Seminar, Saive said:
“By competing in Baku 2015, I will be able to engage with athletes and promote the work of the EOC Athletes Commission in a more direct way. It will be athlete-to-athlete, rather than sports administrator to athlete, which is rare and, who knows, even unique.
“At 45, I am not hoping to win gold, although it would be nice! I still play a lot but with direct qualification to Rio 2016 on offer for the male and female European Games champions I will be up against some tough competition. We’ll see, but my main goal is to encourage athletes to start thinking about their careers after they finish playing elite-level sport.
“Of course athletes must prioritise their sporting careers during their best years but it’s never too early to start thinking about their life after sport. Baku 2015 is going to be a lot of fun!”
Saive’s ability to maintain his sporting prowess into his 40s, and to manage his training and competition schedule with a high-profile sports administration role, proves that combining elite sport with other pursuits is more than just possible - it’s exciting.