By Henry Chen
Miu Hirano, Mima Ito, and Tomokazu Harimoto are just three of the young Japanese players who are already establishing their names in the big international scene of table tennis.
Mima Ito, at age 15, became an Olympic medalist. Meanwhile, Miu Hirano became this year’s Women’s World Cup title holder at age 16. Lastly, Tomokazu Harimoto is the youngest winner of the World Junior Championships Boys’ Singles title. He is just 13 years old.
These achievements have definitely caught the attention of the Chinese Team. Head coach of the Chinese Women’s Team, Kong Linghui, commended the amount of opportunities the Japanese Team is giving to their young players.
“In contrary, the experience of the Japanese Team’s young players is much richer. As for the Chinese Team, players at 14 years of age have just entered the second team. But players with the same age in Japan are already having much more opportunities to harness themselves.” Kong Linghui said.
The Chinese Team also noticed the big investment Japan has already paid for it. While a lot of the major players were on an adjustment period after the Olympic Games this year, the Japanese Team sent more than 40 delegates in the 2016 ITTF SheSays China Open held in Chengdu.
“The investment of the Japanese Team on cultivating their young players is very big.” Liu Guoliang commented.
Well, it seems that the investment is paying off. Recently, Japan has really stepped forward and slowly established themselves as a major opponent of the Chinese Team. However, China still can’t see the cause of concern.
Kong Linghui believes that in terms of the training style and system, they are still stronger.
As their young players are attending more world competitions, the Chinese Team will also get even stronger. They understand that Japan is good in the early stages of cultivating their young players. However, what Japan is lacking is in the aspect of innovation and growth.