by Ian Marshall, Editor
Play on an all-play-all group basis, Australia, Fiji, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea form the men’s competition; Australia confronts Fiji for the right to compete in the women’s event in Tokyo.
In both, Australia start as clear favourites; Xavier Dixon, Heming Hu, Kane Townsend, David Powell and Yan Xin form the men’s team, for the women it is Jian Fang Lay, Michelle Bromley, Stephanie Sang Xu and Melissa Tapper.
Present in Rio de Janeiro
Notably included in both teams are the players who competed in the colours of the green and gold at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.
David Powell, Heming Hu and Yan Xi formed the men’s team, Yan Xi more often being known as Chris Xan. For the women both Jian Fang Lay and Melissa Tapper competed, Ziyu Zhang being the third player. She is the one exception; she is not named on the Mornington entry list.
No strangers to big stage, David Powell plied his skills in the Men’s World Cup in 2016 in Saarbrücken and in 2017 in Liège, Heming Hu in 2018 in Paris and just over a week ago in Chengdu.
Experience but there are few in the world, let alone Oceania, who can match the experience of Jian Fang Lay. Earlier this year she competed in her eighth Women’s World Cup, more significantly, she has been in action at every Olympic Games since 2000 in Sydney.
Similarly, Melissa Tapper now 29 years old, on duty earlier this year at the Liebherr World Championships in Budapest and at the ZEN-NOH World Team Cup in Tokyo is now a player well accustomed to the major tournament scene.
Somewhat differently, at junior level, New Zealand’s Nathan Xu, who lines up alongside Liu Tengteng and Dean Shu in the men’s team is no stranger to the global arena, recently he was present at the NSDF World Junior Championships in Thailand.
Meanwhile, for Fiji youth is also very much to the fore; in action at the 2019 Oceania Junior and Cadet Championships earlier this year in Nuku’alofa, Vicky Wu and Jai Chauchan line up alongside Joshua Yee and Wu Zhicong in the men’s team. For Papua New Guinea, Geoffrey Loi, on duty at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games, joins forces with David Loi, Gasika Sepa and Kariko Jackson.
Featured on Olympic stage
Young players on view for Fiji in the men’s team event, it is the same for the women, Grace Rosi Yee, 17 years old, joins sister, the one year old Sally Yee in an outfit completed by Carolyn Li.
Significantly, Sally Yee competed in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, Grace Rosi Yee in the Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympic Games; also last year Carolyn Li was present at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games.
The Olympic format playing system will be used: B&C v Y&Z, A v X, C v Z, A v Y, B v X.