by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
It was the second time the each has claimed the prestigious award, received at an occasion that witnesses ever growing standards. The event is now a highly professional show.
“My thanks to the International Table Tennis Federation and Qatar Table Tennis Association, it is a great honour to be here; Doha is a beautiful city. After the Olympic Games, table tennis is very popular in China, I hope we can make it more popular in all parts of the world”, Ma Long
An evening which combined awards with video replays of the most memorable moments of the year, met with the universal approval of all concerned; it was a fact Thomas Weikert, ITTF President, duly acknowledged.
The Qatar Table Tennis Association led by Khalil Al-Mohannadi proved first class hosts, having co-operated in particular with Singapore based office of the International Table Tennis Federation to realise an event that will live long in the memory.
“My thanks for the award, my thanks to all who have helped me and enabled me to become stronger, I love you all”, Ding Ning
Major awards for China and there were more. Presented by Butterfly, Liu Guoliang, the Men’s National Team Head Coach, received the Coach of the Year Award for the second time in succession, whilst offered by Stag International, Liu Jing was named Para Female Athlete of the Year. Notably at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, she won gold in Women’s Singles Class 1-2 and in Women’s Team Class 1-3.
“I am so happy with this award; my thanks to all the members of my team. I hope more people will now pay greater attention to Para table tennis”, Liu Jing
Also, for his amazing so-called roller shot when retrieving the ball from below the height of the table at the ITTF World Tour Laox Japan Open, Fan Zhendong received the accolade for the point of the year.
“I am grateful for the recognition and the honour, I will continue to work hard to become a better player”, Fan Zhendong.
Awards for China and there was more recognition. Xu Xin, Ding Ning and Liu Shiwen were all inducted into the Hall of fame; they had all met the requisite of securing five gold medals during their careers at World Championships.
Acclamation as in previous years for China but there were firsts, there was a first for Belgium and for Egypt.
Presented by Tinsue, Laurens Devos won the Male Para Star of the Year Award. Ice cool under pressure, at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games he secured the Men’s Singles Class 9 title. At 16 years of age, he became the youngest player ever to win gold in a table tennis event at a Paralympic Games.
“I thank my family and everyone who has supported me”, Laurens Devos
Meanwhile, Egypt’s 15 year old Rinad Fathy received the Fair Play Award for advising the ball had touched her side of the table in the Girls’ Team final at the ITTF-African Junior and Cadet Championships when facing Tunisia. The officials had deemed otherwise.
A well merited award for Rinad Fathy, it was the same for Japan’s 16 year old Miu Hirano; presented by Frank Gee from the Monday Club, she received the Breakthrough Player of the Year Award.
Winners but all were winners, commemorative plaques were presented by Thomas Weikert to the sponsors; a memorable night was enjoyed, a credit to all concerned.