by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Earlier this year, Ho Kwan Kit won ITTF World Tour Under 21 Men’s Singles titles in Qatar and in China, whilst being the runner up in Kuwait.
He appears on the Doha entry list, as does Chinese Taipei’s Liao Cheng-Ting, Korea’s Lim Junghoon and Japan’s Yuto Muramatsu.
Likewise, this year, on the ITTF World Tour, Liao Cheng-Ting won in Bulgaria and Belgium, whilst being the runner up in Sweden; in a similar manner, Yuto Muramatsu emerged successful in Germany and the Czech Republic, being the silver medallist in China, when losing to Ho Kwan Kit.
Meanwhile, for Lim Junghoon, the record is slightly different; he has no silver medal against his name; he won in Hungary and on home soil in Korea.
The task for Lim Junghoon is to follow in the footsteps of Cho Eonrae, Kim Minseok and Seo Hyundeok.
Cho Eonrae is to date the most successful of the Koreans; he was the runner up in Fuzhou in 2005, the winner two years later in Beijing. Similarly in 2010 in Seoul, Seo Hyundeok finished in the silver medal position; one year later in London, it was the top step of the podium for Kim Minseok.
Success for Korea, for Chinese Taipei, the level of success in the Grand Finals is less; Chiang Hung-Chieh is the only finalist, he won in Macao in 2008.
Tradition to uphold, if anyone is charged with tradition, it is Yuto Muramatsu; his task is to make it three in a row for Japan. Asuka Machi won in Bangkok in 2014, last year in Lisbon, Yuya Oshima was anointed champion.
No other Japanese player has ever reached an Under 21 Men’s Singles gold medal match at the Grand Finals; in Doha there is a reasonable chance that situation may change.
In addition to Yuto Muramatsu, the names of Mizuki Oikawa and Tomakazu Harimoto appear on the entry list; furthermore, Korea is present in force, Park Ganghyeon is also in action.
Standards to which to aspire, for Can Akkuzu it is the same; Simon Gauzy won the 2013 version when staged early the following year in Dubai.
Thus Ho Kwan Kit stands alone, he is the only player in the Under 21 Men’s Singles event in Doha, from an association never to have won the title or even reached the final; in the Gulf State will it be a first or a repeat?