09 Sep 2017

An international debut in Edmonton, competing on the 2003 ITTF World Junior Circuit on home soil in Canada, a 14 year old caught the eye in the Girls’ Singles event; she reached the quarter-final round losing to Korea’s Nam Hyejin. One year later when the tournament was staged in Vancouver, she emerged as the winner; at the latter stages she beat Hong Kong’s Yu Kwok See, Russia’s Polina Mikhailova and Romania’s Daniela Dodean.

Now 28 years of age, Zhang Mo is the leading female name on duty at the inaugural 2017 ITTF Pan American Championships; proceedings commence in the northern Colombian city of Cartagena de Indias on Monday 11th September and conclude on Sunday 17th September.

by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor

Later Zhang Mo was to add four further ITTF World Junior Circuit Girls’ Singles titles, as she established her place firmly in the national team; eventually competing in the Women’s Singles event at the three most recent Olympic Games.

Significantly, she qualified for the London 2012 Olympic Games by winning the Women’s Singles title the previous year at the Pan American Games in the Mexican city of Guadalajara. In the final, she beat the Dominican Republic’s Wu Xue, a feat no Latin American player ever achieved in international competition; always the left handed pen-hold grip style proved too great.

Pan American Games success, at the 2017 ITTF Pan American Championships, Zhang Mo is one of one of two female players who has won gold medal in the prestigious quadrennial event; the other is Wu Xue of the United States. In harness with Lily Zhang and Zheng Jiaqi, neither present in Cartagena de Indias, she emerged successful in 2015 in the Women’s Team event in Toronto, prior to securing the Women’s Singles title.

At the Women’s Singles quarter-final stage in Toronto, Wu Yue beat Puerto Rico’s Adriana Diaz, before overcoming the Brazilian duo of Caroline Kumahara and Gui Lin to capture gold. The name of Caroline Kumahara does not appear on the entry list for this year’s tournament but those of Adriana Diaz and Gui Lin do appear; Adriana Diaz is next in line to Zhang Mo in the order of merit followed by Wu Yue and Gui Lin.

Immediately following is Bruna Takahashi, also from Brazil; earlier this year she beat Adriana Diaz in the final of the Girls’ Singles event at the Pan American Junior Championships in Buenos Aires, having lost to her friend and rival in the title deciding contest two years earlier, when the inaugural event was staged in Burnaby.

Success for Latin America in Pan American Junior Championships but never success at senior level; consistently the Women’s Singles title at Pan American events has been won by North Americans. Earlier this year in Costa Rica Lily Zhang succeeded at the first ever ITTF Pan American Cup; always at the Pan American Games, the top step of the Women’s Singles podium has finished in the hands of either Canada or the United States.

In Cartagena de Indias can Adriana Diaz or Bruna Takahashi reverse the trend? Can Gui Lin avenge the defeat of two years ago in Toronto?

I give you evens but I give you 100 to 1 if any player, male or female, can match the feat of Canada’s Mariann Domonkos, the first time we witnessed table tennis in a major Pan American competition.

Staged in San Juan, Puerto Rico in 1979, at the Pan American Games, she completed a clean sweep of titles – Women’s Team, Women’s Singles, Women’s Doubles, Mixed Doubles – in Cartagena de Indias all four titles are on offer.

2017 ITTF Pan American Championships Adriana Diaz Bruna Takahashi Zhang Mo Wu Yue Gui Lin

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