By Henry Chen
“They are our biggest competition in the Tokyo Olympic Games.” This was the statement of the Chinese Team after the Rio Olympic Games. Whether in the men’s or women’s division, China saw the impending threat from the Japanese Team.
In recent years, Japanese players slowly but surely raised their level in the sport. Their players patiently waited for the right time and opportunity to show the world what they are capable of. As of now, Japan has narrowed the gap against China.
However, narrowing the gap isn’t the ultimate goal of the Japanese Team. They simply aim to exceed the Chinese Team. They believe that the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games is the right opportunity to achieve such goal.
Initially, the Japanese Team announced that they expect Ai Fukuhara to help them achieve their goal in the next Olympic Games. The player had a positive response but recent developments might affect future plans.
Ai Fukuhara is currently complying her duties as a wife to Chiang Hung Chieh. The main player of the Japanese Team assured that she will adhere with everything that is needed to continue her athletic career.
However, the Japanese Association is also thinking that Fukuhara might not be at her optimum condition come 2020. Ai Fukuhara, considering age and overall strength, could be in a disadvantage against younger names in the sport.
As of now, two of their young members are making a name for themselves in the international circuit. Mima Ito, 16 years of age, participated in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. She finished the competition with a bronze medal in the Olympic Team event.
Just recently, Miu Hirano, also 16 years of age, was hailed as the first ever non-Chinese champion of the Women’s World Cup. She successfully conquered the Seamaster 2016 Women’s World Cup.
Both players are clearly showing a positive momentum in their careers, and the Japanese Team would want to shift their focus on these promising young players. Their experience and achievements will increase their confidence and will give them a solid advantage.
The question now if Miu Hirano and Mima Ito would be able to increase their momentum against the Chinese Team.