Prithika Pavade, pongiste de haut niveau et étudiante en sciences de la Nature

Prithika Pavade

High-level table tennis player and natural sciences student

I am lucky to have the status of a high-level athlete, which offers me solutions to achieve this dual sporting and academic project under the best conditions possible.

At only 19 years old, table tennis player Prithika Pavade has already distinguished herself among the greatest in table tennis. French senior champion, this first year natural sciences student hopes to qualify for her second Olympic Games and turn the tables at the Paris 2024 Olympics.

How did your passion for ping-pong begin?

I discovered table tennis thanks to my father who played it at a good level when he was younger in Pondicherry, India, his country of origin. I started at the age of 7 at the Bourget club and quickly took a liking to this sport, then went on to compete.

What led you to study natural sciences at Sorbonne University?

After my scientific baccalaureate, I chose to join Sorbonne University, alongside Insep, for the broad scientific content it offers and in particular the natural sciences portal. The program would enable me to work in the field of the environmental and this course particularly interested me.

Furthermore, Sorbonne University allows me to adapt my university curriculum by spreading the validation of my degree over several years.

How do you combine your studies and high-level sport to carry out this dual project?

This requires a lot of autonomy and willpower because, despite the arrangements, the pace is very fast. During the week, I train every morning at Insep before working on my classes for one or two hours and leaving for 4.5 hours of training. And I'm not counting the physiotherapy and physical preparation sessions.

I am lucky to have the status of a high-level athlete, which offers me solutions to achieve this dual sporting and academic project as best as possible. Thanks to the Passport to the Olympics scholarship program funded by Crédit Agricole d'Ile-de-France Mécénat and the Sorbonne University Foundation, I also benefit from private lessons and I feel supported in my objectives.

What do the Paris Olympics mean to you?

It’s a dream for me, a global event that takes place at home. Hosting the biggest competition in your country is an incredible opportunity that few athletes will be able to experience. It is also an opportunity to make an impression, with the desire to be competitive and achieve exceptional results.

How do you prepare for it?

Preparing for a competition of this magnitude requires time and a certain degree of progress. There are still many steps to complete. My next goals are the Senior Individual World Championships in May 2023 in South Africa and the European Games at the end of June in Poland.

With each competition, I try to move forward, become a more complete player, gain experience and enter the world top 50 by the summer of 2024.

Do you have a lucky object or ritual that you practice before each competition?

I wear jewelry that my parents bought me in India, their country of origin. They remind me of my family roots and that gives me strength. Before each competition, I like to finish my warm-up with dynamic physical exercises and watch the matches before mine to put myself in my bubble.

What is your most memorable competition and your biggest success?

My most unforgettable memory is our coach’s pre-match speech in the quarter-final of the 2021 European Team Championships in Cluj. We were going to face Austria. There had not been a medal among French women for over 60 years. He told us: “Girls, this is going to be a very tough match. To make history against high-level players, we will have to fight. We are not going to win 3/0! ". Finally, we won 3/0 over Austria!

My qualification for the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2021 was a real surprise and my greatest pride because I did not think I would be able to participate in the qualifying tournaments. And what is even more magical is having won the second tournament in Europe. Nobody expected it.

Photographe © François Le Guen

Notable Achievements:

  • 2023
    • Gold medalist in mixed doubles at the French Championships in March 2023.
  • 2022
    • French champion in women’s singles and doubles
    • Team and doubles silver medalist at the U19 World Championship
  • 2021
    • Qualification for the Tokyo Olympic Games
    • Team bronze medalist at the 2021 European Table Tennis Championships
    • French team champion and vice-champion of France in singles
  • 2020
    • European Under-21 Champion