Flavien Coton: A family affair with vision

Published On: 16/06/2023|By |Categories: Home page news ticker, Mentality, Players, Portrait, Talent Development|

Discover the inspiring journey of Flavien Coton, a dedicated table tennis talent who started playing at age 3. Follow his way how to try to realize his dream of winning Olympic gold.

none

The first national singles titles. Photo: private

Flavien Coton started playing table tennis at the age of three because “my brother Adrien, mother Carole, father Xavier and my godfather all played. The club president, luckily my grandfather, was also very important as he always unlocked the hall for us when we wanted to play,” he says calmly. Eight years later, he was one of the top two players in his age group in Europe.

He became French champion in the U12 class- singles and doubles- in 2019 at a mere 11 years old. An impressive achievement, especially considering that there are a lot of outstanding young players in France due to the country’s system of excellent talent scouting and promotion.

none

Flavien with the No. 6 of the world and his big brother Adrien in OX. Photo: private

Flavien has attracted further attention thanks to his second-place ranking in the Euro Mini Champs in Strasbourg in 2019, the unofficial European championship for 11–12-year-olds. This taste of achievement has not hindered him in training and he continues on, more and better than ever.

His positive development is the reason why he participated in a training stay in Ochsenhausen for the second time, which lasted 14 days. There he was surrounded by a team who saw his great potential and were willing and able to help him work to live up to it.

Despite his impressive legacy, it is abundantly clear that having table tennis playing parents, brother and other relatives is not sufficient to be so successful in Europe at such a young age. So, how did Flavien get here, and how did it all start?

‘Baby Ping’

As Flavien explained, his mother ran the French ‘Baby Ping’ Project in Bruille from 2010 till 2013. This programme was started 12 years ago by the French Table Tennis Federation (FFTT), aimed at inviting 4–6-years-old children to play table tennis at schools and clubs or giving pointers on how they could start training themselves at home. 15,000 rackets and 45,000 balls were provided for participants. Flavien received one from his mother, who naturally took her son to those introductory table tennis lessons five times a week.

Thus, it became quite normal for Flavien to play with the little white ball every day. While he had also taken up football with his peers, he found table tennis more enjoyable as well as more to his taste. He explained that “in table tennis you decide yourself whether you win or lose, in football you can win even though you played badly – or vice versa… [table tennis] is a strategic sport in which tactics are very important, which I like a lot.” When prompted about his other interests, he shared that he has found that computer games are not his ‘thing’ and now he plays football just for fun with friends, in their gardens.

After the ‘Baby Ping’ time, at five years old, Flavien played about one and a half hours a day with the other children in the club, even though most of them were already between 10-14 years old. By the time he was seven years old, he was training for two to two and a half hours with his father and the other adults at their club. However, he never forgot the fun of playing, nor the importance of playing for fun.

none

Every summer, the family goes on vacation to the south coast of France. Photo: private

The Coton family live in Masny, a village roughly 25 km from the Belgian border and when the compass crew arrived for their interview with the table tennis family, the first thing on the agenda was playing. The compass team was immediately invited to join all the games, alongside Flavien’s brother Adrien, who is two and a half years older, but just as much of an avid player. The two of them naturally love to compete in anything and everything possible.

The games included football in the garden, shooting at the squares placed in the top left and top right corners of the goal. Next was foosball, and with a coin thrown expertly in a backward rotation, the heated game was afoot! Unsurprisingly, Flavien has quick hands at foosball too and scored often, giving Michel Blondel, sports director of the centre in Ochsenhausen, a ferocious challenge, shown in the picture below!

none

Undisputable victory for Flavien over Ochsenhausen sports director Michel Blondel. Photo: J. Leiss

Detection program

His father had recommended that the region’s national coach, Christophe Delory, take a look at Flavien when he was eight years old. The latter responded immediately then consequently started playing with Flavien regularly twice a week, and even sent him to the national sighting course.

Since then, Flavien has been in the FFTT (French Federation of Table Tennis), and has benefited from the system’s dedication to provide special support to individual players who are particularly promising. Until he was ten years old, he trained two to three hours every weekday, with additional tournaments on the weekends.

none

A 5-year-old Flavien, very happy to play with the older boys. Adrien in the middle. Photo: private

Regional training center

When he was eleven years old, Flavien started at CREPS in Wattignies, 35 km from his home. CREPS is the regional centre for physical and sports training, focusing on sports preparation and improvement for high-level and aspiring athletes.

There are nine such sports boarding schools spread throughout the country in France, and they are places where all sports, not only table tennis, and school education work hand in hand. Teachers and coaches communicate and coordinate about the education, training, and competition participation of individual students/players.

none

With Harimoto at the training course at the National Training Center in Tokyo. Photo: private

As a result of this move, the amount of training increased to between fifteen to sixteen hours per week in CREPS and today it is twenty hours of training, including three hours of physical training plus competitions every weekend, in non-Covid times. “Flavien is really only at home two weeks a month, otherwise he is always at training courses and competitions,” says his mother, Carole.

Furthermore, he participates in many national and international events, such as stays in Ochsenhausen as well as Japan. When possible, Alice Joneau, his personal coach, accompanies him to training courses and competitions. She is also the coach for the training group and Flavien in CREPS. However, there is an official agreement between the national federation and the FFTT, which states that part of her duties is to specifically support Flavien. Alice also ensures that Flavien has excellent training partners at CREPS; his brother Adrien, still considered ‘The Boss’ in the family, as well as players ranked high in the French men’s rankings.

In addition to his soccer hobby, Flavien’s schedule at the sports high school includes country field hockey. Gaining the nickname ‘the vacuum cleaners’, the players are required to have good footwork, hand-eye coordination, and teamwork, as well as the ability to keep track of the ball at all times and predict its movements. All of these skills are transferable and useful in his table tennis career.

With his club CTT Bruille, Flavien plays in the National 2, the fourth highest league in France. “Not the biggest success, but one of my very best table tennis experiences was when our team won the decisive match for promotion,” Flavien recounts. He had fought hard for it two years ago together with his father Xavier and his godfather!

none

Flavien Coton. Photo: EMC

When prompted for his vision, his dream, Flavien replied without hesitation: “Gold medal at the Olympic Games. If not, definitely to rank in the top 20 in the world.”
So what does Flavien’s personal coach, Alice Joneau, have to say about this and about her protégé? Having only been his coach for a year, she explains: “At the beginning I was surprised by his professional attitude since he was only eleven years old. He has high expectations of himself, but also of his environment. You never have to ask him to do this or that. He knows what is required if you want to become extraordinary, even things that are not much fun. He’s also a very quick learner, and a great listener.” Alice is unquestionably impressed with her protégé.

“Player-wise, he’s already pretty complete, and his backhand is his best shot. Everything can still be developed, of course, but the conditions are very good. He can adapt well to new situations and opponents in the game, is not an extroverted player like Harimoto, but rather keeps calm and plays smart.”

Alice believes that “top 10 in the world could already be a goal for him.” The two get along well, trust and respect each other and if she has any questions about the world rankings, championship results or any player, she does not need to look on the internet- she asks Flavien who has all the answers in his head. This is true not only for table tennis, but for almost all other sports as well. “He’s my sports Google when he’s around,” she says with a laugh. Showing such dedication to statistics at his young age makes Flavien’s passion for sports clear to all around him.

During his training stay in Ochsenhausen however, he’s on his own for fourteen days. He trains with, to name a few, Rossi, Kubik, Manuel Prohaska or Bogdan Pugna- who was previously a coach in France in a national federation- and often does multiball training with them.

“He trains with concentration and at a high level,” reports Ochsenhausen’s sports director and dignified loser of foosball, Michel Blondel. “It’s important to adapt to the adult game early on. He’s already doing that quite well.”

Gaining momentum, Flavien wants to move up. Together with his parents, Alice Joneau and the Le Nord region, his teachers, his athletics coach, the FFTT, U15 coach Emannuel Rachez, Ochsenhausen and Donic, the compass Foundation is supporting his ambition. In a few years, we will see if it has succeeded. Considering his status, as of 2023 October, as the gold medalist in the World Youth Table Tennis Championships, he is definitely on the right track.

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Flavien Coton: A family affair with vision

Flavien Coton: A family affair with vision

Published On: 16/06/2023|By |Categories: Home page news ticker, Mentality, Players, Portrait, Talent Development|

Discover the inspiring journey of Flavien Coton, a dedicated table tennis talent who started playing at age 3. Follow his way how to try to realize his dream of winning Olympic gold.

none

The first national singles titles. Photo: private

Flavien Coton started playing table tennis at the age of three because “my brother Adrien, mother Carole, father Xavier and my godfather all played. The club president, luckily my grandfather, was also very important as he always unlocked the hall for us when we wanted to play,” he says calmly. Eight years later, he was one of the top two players in his age group in Europe.

He became French champion in the U12 class- singles and doubles- in 2019 at a mere 11 years old. An impressive achievement, especially considering that there are a lot of outstanding young players in France due to the country’s system of excellent talent scouting and promotion.

none

Flavien with the No. 6 of the world and his big brother Adrien in OX. Photo: private

Flavien has attracted further attention thanks to his second-place ranking in the Euro Mini Champs in Strasbourg in 2019, the unofficial European championship for 11–12-year-olds. This taste of achievement has not hindered him in training and he continues on, more and better than ever.

His positive development is the reason why he participated in a training stay in Ochsenhausen for the second time, which lasted 14 days. There he was surrounded by a team who saw his great potential and were willing and able to help him work to live up to it.

Despite his impressive legacy, it is abundantly clear that having table tennis playing parents, brother and other relatives is not sufficient to be so successful in Europe at such a young age. So, how did Flavien get here, and how did it all start?

‘Baby Ping’

As Flavien explained, his mother ran the French ‘Baby Ping’ Project in Bruille from 2010 till 2013. This programme was started 12 years ago by the French Table Tennis Federation (FFTT), aimed at inviting 4–6-years-old children to play table tennis at schools and clubs or giving pointers on how they could start training themselves at home. 15,000 rackets and 45,000 balls were provided for participants. Flavien received one from his mother, who naturally took her son to those introductory table tennis lessons five times a week.

Thus, it became quite normal for Flavien to play with the little white ball every day. While he had also taken up football with his peers, he found table tennis more enjoyable as well as more to his taste. He explained that “in table tennis you decide yourself whether you win or lose, in football you can win even though you played badly – or vice versa… [table tennis] is a strategic sport in which tactics are very important, which I like a lot.” When prompted about his other interests, he shared that he has found that computer games are not his ‘thing’ and now he plays football just for fun with friends, in their gardens.

After the ‘Baby Ping’ time, at five years old, Flavien played about one and a half hours a day with the other children in the club, even though most of them were already between 10-14 years old. By the time he was seven years old, he was training for two to two and a half hours with his father and the other adults at their club. However, he never forgot the fun of playing, nor the importance of playing for fun.

none

Every summer, the family goes on vacation to the south coast of France. Photo: private

The Coton family live in Masny, a village roughly 25 km from the Belgian border and when the compass crew arrived for their interview with the table tennis family, the first thing on the agenda was playing. The compass team was immediately invited to join all the games, alongside Flavien’s brother Adrien, who is two and a half years older, but just as much of an avid player. The two of them naturally love to compete in anything and everything possible.

The games included football in the garden, shooting at the squares placed in the top left and top right corners of the goal. Next was foosball, and with a coin thrown expertly in a backward rotation, the heated game was afoot! Unsurprisingly, Flavien has quick hands at foosball too and scored often, giving Michel Blondel, sports director of the centre in Ochsenhausen, a ferocious challenge, shown in the picture below!

none

Undisputable victory for Flavien over Ochsenhausen sports director Michel Blondel. Photo: J. Leiss

Detection program

His father had recommended that the region’s national coach, Christophe Delory, take a look at Flavien when he was eight years old. The latter responded immediately then consequently started playing with Flavien regularly twice a week, and even sent him to the national sighting course.

Since then, Flavien has been in the FFTT (French Federation of Table Tennis), and has benefited from the system’s dedication to provide special support to individual players who are particularly promising. Until he was ten years old, he trained two to three hours every weekday, with additional tournaments on the weekends.

none

A 5-year-old Flavien, very happy to play with the older boys. Adrien in the middle. Photo: private

Regional training center

When he was eleven years old, Flavien started at CREPS in Wattignies, 35 km from his home. CREPS is the regional centre for physical and sports training, focusing on sports preparation and improvement for high-level and aspiring athletes.

There are nine such sports boarding schools spread throughout the country in France, and they are places where all sports, not only table tennis, and school education work hand in hand. Teachers and coaches communicate and coordinate about the education, training, and competition participation of individual students/players.

none

With Harimoto at the training course at the National Training Center in Tokyo. Photo: private

As a result of this move, the amount of training increased to between fifteen to sixteen hours per week in CREPS and today it is twenty hours of training, including three hours of physical training plus competitions every weekend, in non-Covid times. “Flavien is really only at home two weeks a month, otherwise he is always at training courses and competitions,” says his mother, Carole.

Furthermore, he participates in many national and international events, such as stays in Ochsenhausen as well as Japan. When possible, Alice Joneau, his personal coach, accompanies him to training courses and competitions. She is also the coach for the training group and Flavien in CREPS. However, there is an official agreement between the national federation and the FFTT, which states that part of her duties is to specifically support Flavien. Alice also ensures that Flavien has excellent training partners at CREPS; his brother Adrien, still considered ‘The Boss’ in the family, as well as players ranked high in the French men’s rankings.

In addition to his soccer hobby, Flavien’s schedule at the sports high school includes country field hockey. Gaining the nickname ‘the vacuum cleaners’, the players are required to have good footwork, hand-eye coordination, and teamwork, as well as the ability to keep track of the ball at all times and predict its movements. All of these skills are transferable and useful in his table tennis career.

With his club CTT Bruille, Flavien plays in the National 2, the fourth highest league in France. “Not the biggest success, but one of my very best table tennis experiences was when our team won the decisive match for promotion,” Flavien recounts. He had fought hard for it two years ago together with his father Xavier and his godfather!

none

Flavien Coton. Photo: EMC

When prompted for his vision, his dream, Flavien replied without hesitation: “Gold medal at the Olympic Games. If not, definitely to rank in the top 20 in the world.”
So what does Flavien’s personal coach, Alice Joneau, have to say about this and about her protégé? Having only been his coach for a year, she explains: “At the beginning I was surprised by his professional attitude since he was only eleven years old. He has high expectations of himself, but also of his environment. You never have to ask him to do this or that. He knows what is required if you want to become extraordinary, even things that are not much fun. He’s also a very quick learner, and a great listener.” Alice is unquestionably impressed with her protégé.

“Player-wise, he’s already pretty complete, and his backhand is his best shot. Everything can still be developed, of course, but the conditions are very good. He can adapt well to new situations and opponents in the game, is not an extroverted player like Harimoto, but rather keeps calm and plays smart.”

Alice believes that “top 10 in the world could already be a goal for him.” The two get along well, trust and respect each other and if she has any questions about the world rankings, championship results or any player, she does not need to look on the internet- she asks Flavien who has all the answers in his head. This is true not only for table tennis, but for almost all other sports as well. “He’s my sports Google when he’s around,” she says with a laugh. Showing such dedication to statistics at his young age makes Flavien’s passion for sports clear to all around him.

During his training stay in Ochsenhausen however, he’s on his own for fourteen days. He trains with, to name a few, Rossi, Kubik, Manuel Prohaska or Bogdan Pugna- who was previously a coach in France in a national federation- and often does multiball training with them.

“He trains with concentration and at a high level,” reports Ochsenhausen’s sports director and dignified loser of foosball, Michel Blondel. “It’s important to adapt to the adult game early on. He’s already doing that quite well.”

Gaining momentum, Flavien wants to move up. Together with his parents, Alice Joneau and the Le Nord region, his teachers, his athletics coach, the FFTT, U15 coach Emannuel Rachez, Ochsenhausen and Donic, the compass Foundation is supporting his ambition. In a few years, we will see if it has succeeded. Considering his status, as of 2023 October, as the gold medalist in the World Youth Table Tennis Championships, he is definitely on the right track.

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