By Henry Chen
Ranked eighth in the world, Ai Fukuhara is one of the leading names in the Japanese Women’s Team. She was the last Japanese player standing in the Olympic Singles event as she reached the semi-finals.
In the quarter-final round, Fukuhara created a casualty in the competition following her clean sweep against the Singaporean seed Feng Tianwei. It was a big achievement for the Japanese player.
“I still feel like I’m in a dream,” she said. “It’s the Olympic Games, upsets are normal. Feng Tianwei is much stronger than me in terms of skills, I would be happy to win 5 in 10 encounters. But Olympics is such a big match for me, I have to go all out to play her. And that is the only thought I had in the match.”
Fukuhara then proceeded into the penultimate round where she was crushed by the Grand Slam champion Li Xiaoxia. She played for the Olympic bronze but lost to Kim Song I of DPR Korea.
The Singles may not have the ideal ending for Ai Fukuhara but competition hasn’t ended yet. In the Olympic Team event, Ai Fukuhara and company successfully secured the bronze, beating Singapore in the process.
“As we worked as a team we could win,” she commented. “I could not win the first game. Without my team it would not have happened. I am forever in debt to them. Every single moment was so important, all the matches in the tournament and matches in the past.”
Ai Fukuhara has played an important role for the Japanese Team in their success in the Olympic Games. Considering this, it has been reported that the Japanese Table Tennis Association has already indicated they require Ai Fukuhara to be in the Tokyo Olympic Games.
“The Japanese Table Tennis Association has great expectations on Ai Fukuhara in the Tokyo Olympic Games. We hope that she can focus on the competition.”
That was a statement from an official of the Association. Talks in Chinese media said that the Japanese camp is not so in favour of Ai Fukuhara’s wedding plans with Chinese Taipei’s Chiang Hung Chieh.