by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Over the years, in some quarters the event has become regarded as the least important in World or Continental Championships.
We must accept that the headline, whether it is table tennis or tennis, will always be the Men’s Singles or Women’s Singles winner but try telling Japan’s Maharu Yoshimura and Kasumi Ishikawa, the winners in Düsseldorf on Saturday 3rd June that it was a Cinderella medal.
I think back to the Volkswagen 2005 World Championships in Shanghai when such a comment was made to Wang Liqin after he had won the Mixed Doubles title in partnership with Guo Yue; the journalist was quickly put in his place when the Chinese star explained that it was a world title, no different to any other.
Also at that tournament I recall the desperation on the face of Bai Yang, for the second consecutive World Championships, she had finished in runners up position in partnership with Liu Guozheng. She knew the chance of a gold medal at a World Championships had gone; a Mixed Doubles gold would have been the very pinnacle of her career. It would have been so precious.
There is no player on planet earth who would not want to win a Mixed Doubles gold medal at an Olympic Games or World Championships; none at all.
Now at future World Championships will we see a change in Chinese thinking in the Mixed Doubles event? Instead of partnering players from a different national association, will they return the policy of the fielding all Chinese pairings with Tokyo in mind? If any country leaves no stone unturned in preparation it is China!
Also note the new regulation for the 2019 World Championships which was approved in Düsseldorf and reads basically as follows:
“A national association may enter a maximum of four players in each of the Men’s Doubles, Women’s Doubles and Mixed Doubles events. A maximum of two players per doubles event entered by an association may partner players from different national associations.”
Now what about the ITTF World Tour; how much interest would be created if at one or two selected events we go back in time and re-introduce Mixed Doubles?
In days of old there were no Under 21 events; a Mixed Doubles event limited to 16 pairs to replace the Under 21 competitions, would that not be possible?
Would it not create interest as we move ever closer to Tokyo 2020?