by Simon Daish
History was made at the Sun International 2016 World Junior Championships as the eight day event hosted in Cape Town, South Africa produced many a twist and turn.
Tomokazu Harimoto, 13 years old, became the youngest ever gold medal winner at a World Junior Championships when he beat Cho Seungmin in the Boys’ Singles final as Japan went on to claim three titles at the tournament.
However, arguably the shock story of the 2016 World Junior Championships was China being restricted to just a single trophy at the competition as Shi Xunyao overcame Hing Kong’s Mak Tze Wing in the Girls’ Singles category.
The Olympic Games held in Rio de Janeiro in the August 2016 saw China’s Ma Long and Ding Ning thrill the crowds at the Riocentro Pavilion 3 by claiming the respective Men’s and Women’s Singles gold medals for the first time in their careers, and the terrific efforts of the two Chinese competitors at Rio 2016 were recognised once again four months later at the Seamaster Qatar 2016 ITTF Star Awards presentation evening at the Sheraton Hotel in Doha.
Ma Long was awarded the Male Star Player Award presented by Double Happiness while Ding Ning received the honour of being named the Female Star Player Award which was provided by Nittaku.
The Star Coach Award went to Liu Guoliang for his successful year at the helm of the Chinese men’s team, while Fan Zhendong won the Star Point Award for his amazing roller shot performed against France’s Simon Gauzy at the 2016 ITTF World Tour Laox Japan Open.
Laurens Devos and Liu Jing won the Male Para Star of the Year Award and Female Para Star of the Year Award respectively, Rinad Fathy was given the Fair Play Award and Japanese teenager Miu Hirano was named as the Breakthrough Player of the Year.
Doha, Qatar was the host city for the end of year Seamaster Qatar 2016 ITTF World Tour Grand Finals competition which took place between Thursday 8th and Sunday 11th December as the ITTF World Tour campaign for 2016 came to an end.
For the first time in her career Zhu Yuling of China stood victorious in the Women’s Singles competition following her success over her opponent from Germany Han Ying, and in a repeat of the 2015 final Ma Long came out on top against Fan Zhendong to take the Men’s Singles crown.