by Kabir Nagpal
Wang Chuqin has withdrawn from all three events in which he was scheduled to compete in Linz, the men’s singles, the men’s doubles partnering Fan Zhendong and the mixed doubles in harness with Liu Shiwen.
The suspension for the 19 year old, who just over one year ago won gold at the Buenos 2018 Youth Olympic Games, concludes on Thursday 13th February; thus his attendance at the ITTF World Tour Grand Finals, in which he has qualified to compete in the men’s singles event, is now in doubt.
The situation arose after the dramatic concluding preliminary round match between against Zhao Zihao. Out of form, Wang Chuqin lost the first three games, he recovered, levelled but lost the deciding game (12-10, 11-7, 11-6, 6-11, 5-11, 6-11, 11-9). Disappointed, in the heat of the moment at the end of the third game, he threw his racket at the table, thus contravening the ethics of sport.
Notably the match was in sharp contrast their meeting just over one month ago in Sweden when en route to the title, at the quarter-final stage Wang Chuqin had beaten Zhao Zihao in four straight games (11-6, 11-6, 11-7, 11-5). No doubt that fact added the frustration of a player known for his calm and resolute approach.
It is the latest sign of the zero tolerance policy adopted by the Chinese Table Tennis Association for any form of indiscipline. Earlier this year both Zhou Yu and Fang Bo were suspended for incidents that concerned the infringement of regulations.
The Chinese Table Tennis Association released the following translated statement:
“During the ITTF World Tour Austrian Open, Wang Chuqin, a member of the Chinese table tennis men’s team, was deemed to be out of control when he lost to his national teammate Zhao Zihao. He deliberately threw his racket at the table and almost harmed his teammate.
As a result of this irresponsible move on the court, and as the head coach of the men’s team, I would like to apologise to the referee and the fans. With Wang Chuqin suspended, he and his supervisor Liu Guozheng are immediately returning to China for reflection. In the coming days, the coaching team of the national table tennis team will help Wang Chuqin to understand and correct his behaviour. We assure everyone that this will not happen in the future.
Wang Chuqin will also withdraw from the remaining doubles and mixed doubles in the Austrian Open. Although it affects the results, in the face of the extreme signs of young players’ thinking and behaviour, we must take care of the rules and value the education and growth of young players above all else. Only proper management can help young athletes correct their attitudes in the growth period and become more outstanding people.
Here, we apologise again to the fans. The national men’s team coaching team will also deeply reflect on the problems of negligence within the team members, as well as strengthen the ideological and moral education of coaches and athletes, to maintain the respect of the audience, the opponents, the referees, and keep in mind the spirit of the national team.”