25 Dec 2016

Ai Fukuhara has been absent from competition since the announcement of her marriage following the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. Recently, she admitted that her focus now is being a supportive wife to husband, Chiang Hung Chieh.

Does this mean that the Japanese player has already decided on giving up her athletic career?

by Henry Chen 

“My focus now is to play the role of a good housewife”, Ai Fukuhara

A pivotal member of the Japanese Women’s Team, Ai Fukuhara has changed her role. Instead of training and competing, she currently devotes her time providing support to her husband, Chiang Hung-Chieh, who is playing in Germany. She said that it is the main thing in her life as of this moment.

Ai Fukuhara and Chinese Taipei’s Chiang Hung Chieh announced their marriage in September of this year. It was reported to be a concern especially from the Japanese Association who want Fukuhara to prepare for the 2020 Olympic Games.

Chiang Hung Chieh and wife Ai Fukuhara in today's press conference. (Photo from Sina Sports)
Chiang Hung Chieh and wife Ai Fukuhara in a press conference. (Photo from Sina Sports)

The Japanese player still went on with her marriage and at the same time, assured everyone that the transition she made in her personal life will not affect her career. She intends to sustain being an athlete and yearns to compete in the next Olympic Games to be held on Japanese soil.

The question now is whether Ai Fukuhara can still catch up with the recent developments within the Japanese Team.

In 2016, many new names have emerged in the Japanese squad. Mima Ito, at age 16, became an Olympic medallist. Miu Hirano, also 16, conquered the big stage of the Seamaster 2016 Women’s World Cup. Also, the Japanese Team showed their promising reserve players in this year’s Sun International World Junior Championships. They won both Boys’ and Girls’ Team events.

The rapid growth from the Japanese Team recently certainly brings a serious amount of threat to Ai Fukuhara’s position. It could also affect the decisions she will be making for her future.

“No matter what road I will be taking in the future, I feel it will still be related to table tennis. I will still be in such path”, Ai Fukuhara.

Japanese media reports that Ai Fukuhara and Chiang Hung-Chieh will hold their wedding ceremony in Chinese Taipei on Sunday 1st January.

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