by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Victory in 2011 asserted the name of Ding Ning amongst the great names of the sport, earlier in the year she had been crowned World champion in Rotterdam, success in 2014 served as a sharp reminder that she merited such an acclamation. Two years earlier, she had lost to colleague Li Xiaoxia in the London 2012 Olympic Games final and then one year later in the penultimate round of the Women’s Singles event at the Liebherr 2013 World Championships in Paris.
A silver medal at an Olympic Games, bronze at a World Championships; most would bite your hand off for such triumphs, for Ding Ning it was agony. Also did we harbour thoughts in 2013 that possibly the best days of Ding Ning were over?
If we did we were mistaken and was the 2014 win in Linz the spark? History now tells us that Ding Ning won the Women’s Singles title at the Qoros 2015 World Championships and earlier this year at the Liebherr 2017 World Championships. Additional to winning the Women’s Singles title at the GAC Group 2015 ITTF World Tour Grand Finals, sandwiched in between, she secured the most prestigious prize of all, gold at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
Now that success took Ding Ning from great to legend; if she can win in Markham we can put the two descriptions together and make the first superlative. She will be one of the greatest legends of all time; immortal.
She will hold the biggest titles the sport has to offer all at the same time; Olympic champion, World Team champion, World champion and Olympic champion.
Imposingly, she will line up alongside colleagues, Deng Yaping, Wang Nan and Zhang Yining who all achieved the feat.
In 1996 when Deng Yaping won the first ever edition of the Women’s World Cup, it meant she owned all four titles. Success in 2003 at the Women’s World Cup sealed the deal for Wang Nan, whilst in May 2005 when she was crowned World champion Zhang Yining joined the illustrious club. Later in 2005, she made absolutely certain by winning the Women’s World Cup in Guanzhou for the second consecutive year.
Success for Ding Ning in Markham and not the greatest revelation but if she can succeed, she will be the first to win the title in three separate continents.
World champion: Ding Ning (China)
Continental Cup (Winners): Dina Meshref (Egypt), Lily Zhang (United States), Paulina Vega (Chile), Jian Fang Lay (Australia), Li Jie (Netherlands)
Continental Cup (Asia & Europe 2nd & 3rd Places): Kasumi Ishikawa (Japan), Miu Hirano (Japan), Petrissa Solja (Germany), Sabine Winter (Germany)
Continental Cup (World Ranking): Liu Jia (Austria), Georgina Pota (Hungary), Chen Szu-Yu (Chinese Taipei), Suh Hyowon (Korea), Doo Hoi Kem (Hong Kong), Cheng I-Ching (Chinese Taipei), Lee Ho Ching (Hong Kong)
Host Nation: Zhang Mo (Canada)
Wild Card: Elizabeta Samara (Romania)