Are the Lebrun brothers making table tennis fashionable again?

They have become the essential faces of table tennis

Are the Lebrun brothers making table tennis fashionable again?

They have become the essential faces of table tennis. The Lebrun brothers, young French sporting prodigies, largely contributed to the qualification of the French men's team for the round of 16 of the World Cup which takes place in Busan (South Korea) from February 16 to 25. The Blues are even seeded number 4, partly thanks to their two young stars.

At 20, the eldest, Alexis, already a double reigning French champion, won five medals at European level, reached 14th place in the world rankings, and achieved the feat of beating world number 1, Fan Zhendong.

The youngest, Félix, 17 years old, holder of a French doubles champion title, winner of the European games, has won two titles on the international circuit and is ranked 6th in the world, which currently makes him the best player in the Old Continent.

A beginning of effect on licensing

The French table tennis federation can rub its hands with it. Less than six months before the Paris Olympic Games, the two brothers are the new locomotive of the sport of the little white ball, which had experienced a flight of its members after the pandemic, and which has returned to its pre-crisis level. And again, the figures on the number of licensees are finalized at the end of the 2022-2023 season, before Félix's first titles.

The challenge of media exposure

Alexis and Félix Lebrun are also the new ambassadors of table tennis in the media. Still relatively marginal, however, to the extent that their media coverage is currently far from competing with a major competition like the Olympic Games, or a celebrity event, like the ping-pong game between Queen Camilla and Brigitte Macron in September 2023 (which had also overshadowed the team table tennis Euro in the media).

Main challenge: giving visibility to table tennis as a sporting discipline, while it is often approached from a leisure angle (for example as a distraction during the health crisis) or medical (as a treatment for Alzheimer's or Parkinson's) . A challenge, when most of the competitions take place at night, in Asia, as at the moment.

However, outside of sporting highlights, the number of topics on table tennis is increasing almost constantly: driven by the exploits of the Lebruns and a little royal help, it was up 65% in 2023 compared to 2022 .

The craze for brothers nevertheless has a downside: it tends to overshadow the prowess of other promising champions (like Lilian Bardet, author in Busan of an improbable blow to the back for her very first point in the blue jersey) and above all of champions. The media say little about the French veteran Jianan Yuan, the first French woman in history to win the European top 16 last January, or the young prodigy Prithika Pavade, 19, triple bronze medalist at the European Championships, and medalist silver at the Antalya tournament in mixed doubles with… Félix Lebrun. At the world championships, the French women's team also qualified for the round of 16.