By Neha Aggarwal
The youngest ever ITTF World Tour Grand Finals doubles champion at 14, the youngest ever Women’s World Cup winner at 16, the youngest ever Japanese National Champion at 16, the first non-Chinese winner of the ITTF-Asian Championships since 1996, the only third non-Chinese ever to win the Asian Championship and winner of the 2016 ITTF Breakthrough Star of the year award.
That is Miu Hirano, the table tennis player that the world knows.
But there is something more to her than just her success on court.
When she wins, she jumps in joy. When she loses, she expresses dissatisfaction. Notice her reaction after winning a match, she does not shy away from expressing her feelings. After defeating Chen Meng in the final of the Asian Championships, she could not believe what she had achieved. She kept jumping, smiling as bright as she could. She bowed to the crowd and then shared her joys with her coach Mika Baba. She was so excited that she even forgot to turn her video camera off.
That is Miu.
The girl who enjoys her victory like no one else does. She smiles, fixes her hair, and then smiles some more. In turn, she makes the entire world smile along with her. She does not shy away from being herself.
Miu is always Miu.
She comes prepared. She carries an entire kit with her which is needed during game breaks. It consists of her notebook, an ice bag, an energy drink, a towel and a water bottle. She carefully places ice on the part of the body which needs it, and then reads her notes.
She is fast. Lightning speed. In Wuxi she proved to the world that her body HAS the speed that of a Chinese, or rather more than them. Ask Ding Ning, Zhu Yuling and Chen Meng, they will all explain it to you.
Her serves. The rhythematic and flawless execution is an eye candy. The world is talking about it. The Chinese say they need to go back and study her serves. I wonder what would they come up with, because Miu is aware. She is clever. Analyze her game and come up with strategies, in turn she will come up with a new riddle for you to solve.
Her strokes. The backhand pendulum receiving from the forehand side of the table, the reverse pendulum serve, the smashing backhand topspins and the bullet forehand spins down the line. Miu Hirano is one of her kind.
She is fearless. Confident. Matured, beyond her age. Sometimes I wonder if she is gifted or has she learnt it?
I wonder, where does all this come from?
Yet, meet her in person, she is just another teenager from Japan. She loves to dance, sing and is a pro at the PPAP song. Didn’t you watch her groove to her favorite Japanese tunes with Adam Bobrow in Ask A Pro Anything?
She is harmless, polite and giggles like the girl next door. Miu Hirano is different. She is herself, and we all love her for being herself.
That’s her magic, which just gets better and better each time you see her.