01 Dec 2018

Staged in the Chilean capital city of Santiago, in 2013 in mid-December the inaugural World Junior Championships were staged; two young men, at the time both 15 years old, departed proceedings in the Junior Boys’ Singles event at the quarter-final stage.

Both later became Olympic and World champions, Ma Long and Zhang Jike; now at the forthcoming 2018 World Junior Championships which commence in the Australian city of Bendigo on Sunday 2nd December, is there a young man on duty who may follow in the footsteps of his illustrious Chinese predecessors?

by Ian Marshall, Editor

The answer is in the affirmative; likewise 15 year old, note the name of Xiang Peng.

In 2003, Ma Long, who earlier in the week had not been selected for the Junior Boys’ Team final; after mounting a brave recovery lost to the stylish Korea Republic teenager, Lim Jaehyun (11-9, 12-10, 11-8, 8-11, 11-4, 2-11, 12-10); similarly in seven games, Zhang Jike was beaten by Li Hu (9-11, 7-11, 11-6, 11-8, 3-11, 11-8, 11-6). A member of the Chinese Team at the time, Li Hu, also 15 years old, progressed to win the Boys’ Singles title, later he transferred allegiance to Singapore who have since dispensed with his services.

At time the ITTF World Junior Circuit was in its infancy; Zhang Jike had won in New Zealand, Li Hu had prevailed at the World Junior Circuit Finals but Ma Long had no history whatsoever.

Now compare those records with Xiang Peng; this year on the ITTF World Junior Circuit, he won the Cadet Boys’ Singles titles in Oman, France, Thailand and Hong Kong. Also in Italy and France, he was a Junior Boys’ Singles semi-finalist, the runner up in Thailand and the winner in Poland.

One more to add, in mid-August he won the Junior Boys’ Singles title at the Asian Junior and Cadet Championships in Myanmar. It is for a player of his age one of the best ITTF World Junior Circuit records of all time.

In Bendigo, he lines up alongside Xu Yingbin, Yu Heyi and Xu Haidong, the one player remaining from last year in Riva del Garda.

Similarly, Xu Yingbin, Yu Heyi and Xu Haidong have been familiar faces in this year’s ITTF World Junior Circuit. Xu Haidong won in Hong Kong and Italy, whilst being the runner up in Oman and a quarter-finalist in France.

Meanwhile, Yu Heyi succeeded in the Czech Republic and France, losing to Xu Haidong in the Italian final; as for Xu Yingbin, a title has proved elusive, he was the runner up in Poland, a semi-finalist in Thailand, the Czech Republic and France.

In the Boys’ Team event China occupies the top seeded position.

World Junior Championships 2018 World Junior Championships Xiang Peng

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Day 1 - 2018 World Junior Championships