by Neha Aggarwal
China has dominated the sport of table tennis for a long time. Undoubtedly, they are the the best in the world and the rest of the countries are constantly striving to surpass them and change that trend.
Today in Cape Town, Japan did it.
Both the Junior Boys’ and Girls’ Team events were won by Japan. A feat never achieved by any other country except for China itself.
The boys beat Korea Republic 3-0. The girls beat China 3-1.
The top seeds in both Junior Boys and Junior Girls team events, Japan was the favourite to win the titles. However, rankings don’t really matter at such critical stages. What matters is how good one team is at that particular day. Japan convincingly proved they are above the rest of the world in the last four days. From quarter-finals onwards, the boys won all their matches 3-0 and the girls won all their matches 3-1. Consistency is the key to success in sport. They proved it right.
In the boys section, China was eliminated in the semi-final stage by Korea Republic. The team was comprised of relatively new faces. Did the inexperience cost them the title? Maybe.
The Japanese are consistently seen at the international arena, competing amongst the best in the world, an experience that is invaluable and a key component to success at the highest level.
In the girls side, China lost in the final but undoubtedly gave in their best. Although Shi Xunyao started off well beating 2016 Women’s World Cup winner Miu Hiranao, her efforts went in vain as China lost the next three matches. Mima Ito, clearly the architect of Japan’s success, changed the course of the match winning both the matches and Hina Hayata winning one.
Japan won the World Junior Championship titles in boys’ team event in 2005 and girls’ team event in 2010. But both girls and boys have never won together in the same year. Today, in Cape Town they broke a big barrier. Together, they have proved their dominance in the juniors.
Countries have started planning and strategizing for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, these juniors will probably be in contention to represent their respective countries after four years. Japan is determined, and today they proved that they are on the right path.
Does China need to reconsider their strategy?