Jef Vandorpe is the new ENGIE Talent of the Year

Every year since 2012, a Paralympic athlete has been awarded the ENGIE Talent of the Year trophy. The sixth edition of the prize goes to young wheelchair tennis player Jef Vandorpe.

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“I wasn’t expecting this at all, it’s a great recognition of the work I’ve done. It gives me even more motivation to push myself so that I can qualify for the Tokyo Games in 2020. There’s still a long way to go but I’ll give it my all to get there.” Wheelchair tennis player Jef Vandorpe was both pleased and emotional when Her Royal Highness Princess Astrid presented him with the ENGIE Talent of the Year award on February 1 at the official Paralympics Sports Awards ceremony. This award was the crowning achievement of a year filled with fantastic performances.

World junior number one

At just 16, Jef already has an impressive record. Currently world junior number one, the rising star from Antwerp – originally from Niel – has just won the wheelchair tennis Junior Masters in Tarbes, France, beating American Conner Stroud with a final score of 6-3, 6-1.

Last year, Jef Vandorpe was also the architect of Belgium’s historic bronze medal at the World Team Cup – the equivalent of the Davis Cup for wheelchair tennis – along with team mates Joachim Gérard and Gert Vos. The cherry on the cake is that he is already 26th in the world on the International Tennis Federation (IFT) pro circuit, which bodes well for the Paralympic Games in Tokyo in two years’ time.

Encouraging promising talent

The ENGIE Talent of the Year award is part of the 16-year partnership between ENGIE and the Belgian Paralympic Committee (BPC). “ENGIE is one of the historical partners of the BPC and its French-speaking and Dutch-speaking leagues”, says Philippe Van Troeye, CEO of ENGIE Benelux. “We think that disabled sports are very important and this priority is fully in line with our values of integration. The ENGIE Talent of the Year trophy was created to encourage promising talents and helps them prepare for their next major sporting events. Jef’s performances are outstanding and we can’t wait to see what he has in store for us.”

The ENGIE Talent of the Year trophy has been awarded every year since 2012. Former winners include great athletes like Paralympic champion Laurens Devos, Tim Celen, who was selected for the Rio Games, and skier Eleonor Sana, who you can watch from March 9 to 18 in the Winter Paralympic Games in PyeongChang, South Korea.

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