Ding Ning, London bound
Photo By: Rémy Gros
2012 Olympic Games (Click here to access this section)
Currently listed at no.1 of the Women’s World Rankings, 21 year old Ding Ning will replace Guo Yan in the Chinese Team for the forthcoming London 2012 Olympic Games.
The decision was confirmed by the Chinese National Olympic Committee on Wednesday 9th May 2012, the reason for the change being that Guo Yan is injured.
Li Xiaoxia and Guo Yan were the female players from China who gained entry by ranking, following the GAC GROUP 2011 World Championships in Rotterdam.
They occupied the respective top two places on the June list.
Each National Olympic Committee is permitted a maximum of two players by ranking.
Third Place for World Champion
Winning the Women’s Singles title in Rotterdam did not result in Ding Ning overhauling her two colleagues on the global list.
She occupied the no.3 spot; thus following the withdrawal of Guo Yan, and in line with the necessary regulations, Ding Ning being the next on the list, gains the London place.
It means that the team who succeeded in Beijing in 2008 is very similar to the outfit that will be on duty in London’s ExCel Arena later this year in July.
Guo Yue, who qualified following her success at the recent Asian Qualification Tournament in Hong Kong, is once again on duty; she is the one member who remains from the all-conquering Chinese Team in Beijing.
Two Left Handers and One Right Hander
Compatriots in Beijing, Wang Nan and Zhang Yining have now retired but with Guo Yue and Ding Ning in the line-up, both left handed, alongside the right handed Li Xiaoxia, there is a distinct similarity with the outfit of four years ago.
Two left handers and one right hander, in 2008 it was the same; Wang Nan being left handed and Zhang Yining right handed.
Equally with the third match in a fixture being doubles, once again the Chinese Women’s Team is very strong in that department.
In 2008 Wang Nan and Zhang Yining were the reigning Olympic and World Women’s Doubles champions; they had struck gold at the World Championships on three consecutive occasions: 2003 in Paris, 2005 in Shanghai and 2007 in Zagreb.
It is a somewhat similar scenario with Guo Yue and Li Xiaoxia, who will almost certainly form the doubles partnership in the team event.
It is inconceivable that Shi Zhihao, the Head Coach of the Chinese Women’s Team will field two left handers together.
Never in their preparations for the 2008 Olympic Games did Guo Yue and Wang Nan every join forces in doubles and nor did they partner each other in the actual Games.
It is the same with Guo Yue and Li Xiaoxia, Guo Yue and Ding Ning have never been partners in the lead up to London 2012; it is not out of the question that Li Xiaoxia may partner Ding Ning but it’s highly unlikely.
Guo Yue and Li Xiaoxia have not lost Women’s Doubles match since Sunday 14th September 2008, when beaten by Hong Kong’s Jiang Huajun and Tie Yana in the final of the Panasonic Open in Shanghai.
Since that date they have won a plethora of titles including gold at the World Championships in both 2009 and 2011.
Guo Yue (left) and Li Xiaoxia (right) the very best Photo by Rémy Gros
No Great Women’s Singles Success
Compared with her compatriots, Guo Yue has not enjoyed the best of fortunes in Women’s Singles event in recent times; her most recent success of note being in October 2010 at the Austrian Open.
However that must be balanced with her previous Olympic experience and her doubles expertise with Li Xiaoxia; the equation is she becomes a crucial team member.
Alas for Guo Yan it is once again sadness.
In 2005 at the Volkswagen 48th World Championships in Shanghai, she was beaten in the Women’s Singles final by Zhang Yining; now aged 29 years old it would seem that going one step further and winning the really “big one” has passed her by.
She has ITTF Pro Tour, ITTF Pro Tour Grand Finals and Women’s World Cup titles to her credit but time and again she has sat on the bench watching her colleagues grab glory at World Championships.
In Dortmund, at the recent LIEBHERR World Team Championships, she appeared on four occasions and was never troubled; her right arm, her playing arm having the modern day blue tape to act as a support.
Earlier at the Training Camp staged at the Werner Schlager Academy she had rested on occasions so as not aggravate any injury.
Suffering in Yokohama and Rotterdam
Meanwhile at the LIEBHERR World Championships in Moscow in 2010, she was the one winner for China in the ill-fated duel against Singapore but at the H.I.S. World Championships in 2009 in Yokohama and two years later at the GAC GROUP 2011 World Championships in Rotterdam, she did not excel.
In the former she departed in round four of the Women’s Singles event, two years later in Rotterdam at the quarter-final stage; on both occasions she lost to colleague Liu Shiwen, on both occasions in four straight games.
Following in Famous Footsteps
Sadness for Guo Yan, for Ding Ning London beckons and she has the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of Deng Yaping, Wang Nan and most recently Zhang Yining, Olympic Games gold medallist and World champion.
Once again disappointment for Guo Yan Photo by Rémy Gros