In 2006 in the Egyptian capital city of Cairo, Kenta Matsudaira stood tall on the top step of the Boys’ Singles podium.
Five years later Koki Niwa became the second Japanese player to achieve the feat when on Sunday 20th November 2011 he won the Boys’ Singles title at the Volkswagen World Junior Championships in Bahrain.
At the final hurdle he overcame Lin Gaoyuan, the no.2 seed. Koki Niwa won in six games (3-11, 11-6, 7-11, 11-8, 13-11, 11-9).
Runner Up Again Koki Niwa ended any hopes of a Japanese clean sweep and for the second year in succession it was the silver medal for Lin Guoyuan.
One year ago in Bratislava he had been beaten in the final by compatriot Song Hongyuan, in Bahrain his nemesis was Koki Niwa.
Fast Start Lin Gaoyuan, comfortable just a short distance away from the table won the first game; Koki Niwa finding life difficult to cope with the onslaught that had been unleashed.
It is the speed of Lin Gaoyuan that enables his to play at mid-distance; it allows him to unleash his fast topspin strokes.
In order for Koki Niwa to find answers he had to stay close, he had to be positive and he had to reduce the time Lin Gaoyuan was afforded to execute his dazzling play.
Poker Player At the quarter and semi-final stages, Koki Niwa had lived life on the proverbial knife-edge; against both China’s Zheng Peifeng and France’s Quentin Robinot he had face imminent defeat.
However, against both adversaries he had remained ice cool, the true poker player, never showing his hand.
Staying Close Staying Close to the table, Koki Niwa secured the second game but when forced away there was only one winner.
In the third game Lin Gaoyuan forced Koki Niwa away from the table; he was as positive as positive was possible.
Top Speed Furthermore, adrenalin was flowing through his body faster than formula one cars speed round the nearby Bahrain Racing Circuit.
Tas Two games to one ahead, Lin Gaoyuan made the better start in the third game but after being foul served by the umpire on duty the advantage transferred to Koki Niwa; the Japanese teenager secured the fourth game.
It was parity.
Dazzling Play The decision of being faulted for throwing the ball backwards when serving had unnerved Lin Gaoyuan; it was time for the rising Chinese star to re-focus, to start again.
In the fifth game, Koki Niwa made the better start, Lin Gaoyuan recovered, breath taking rallies as the tension mounted; at 9-8 the pendulum had swung in favour of Koki Niwa. He won the next point; two game points.
Both were saved by Lin Gaoyuan; then at 11-10 he held game point. A sensational point followed, it was parity then the next two points to Koki Niwa.
Time Out The Japanese players and coaches in the crowd were now in full voice; the atmosphere was electric.
At 3-2 in favour of Lin Guoyuan in the sixth game, Lin Gaoyuan was once again faulted on his service; the Chinese camp called “Time Out”.
Lin Gaoyuan returned, quiet but inwardly determined; however, there appeared to be doubts in his mind. Not only did he have fight Koki Niwa, he had to fight himself.
Service At 9-all in the sixth game it was parity; then match point to Koki Niwa.
Service, safe return; then a fast forehand down the line ended matters; Koki Niwa was the champion, gold was in Japanese hands.
Swaythling Club Awards Gold for Koki Niwa and prizes for Simon Gauzy of France and India’s Ankita Das; they won the Fair Play Awards presented by the Swaythling Club International.
Worthy Champion Worthy wins and a worthy Boys’ Singles champion, Koki Niwa of Japan