by Simon Daish
One last opportunity to steal the show in 2019
Lin’s awe-inspiring progress has been clear for all to see and the Chinese Taipei player’s efforts have been further recognised after receiving nominations for the Male Table Tennis Star and Breakthrough Star awards at the 2019 ITTF Star Awards ceremony in Zhengzhou, China on Wednesday 11th December.
Zhengzhou is also where the teenager’s campaign officially concludes as Lin looks to sign off his year in style at the Grand Finals.
The world’s finest will be present in the Henan Province based city with the likes of Fan Zhendong, Ma Long and Timo Boll all included on the entry list and all of whom Lin has overcame.
Another intriguing possibility is a potential meeting between Lin Yun-Ju and defending champion Tomokazu Harimoto, in what would be an electrifying contest between two of the most exciting young stars the sport has to offer. Last year Harimoto shocked the world with his gold medal success in Incheon – could the prestigious trophy end up in the hands of another teenager ace in 2019?
Regardless of how he concludes his campaign in Zhengzhou, it’s fair to say it’s been a year to remember for Lin.
The initial buzz surrounding Lin in early 2019 came courtesy of his impressive outings in the doubles game: competing at the 2019 ITTF Challenge Plus Oman Open Lin took home two gold medals in Muscat. He formed title winning alliances with Cheng I-Ching and Liao Cheng-Ting in the respective mixed and men’s doubles events. But, it’s his performances as an individual that really has fans excited.
Seeded 16th for the men’s singles category Lin enjoyed a stunning run of results at the 2019 ITTF World Tour Platinum Japan Open, beating the likes of China’s Lin Gaoyuan and the “Thrill from Brazil” Hugo Calderano on his way to a runner up finish in Sapporo.
A fantastic performance in Japan but it was his outing at the T2 Diamond Malaysia 2019 that truly announced Lin’s arrival as a world beater. Opening with a powerful 4-0 win against Japanese stalwart Jun Mizutani, the Chinese Taipei teenager then went on to topple World and Olympic champion Ma Long at the quarter-final hurdle, before securing his spot in the final with victory over pen-hold grip specialist Wong Chun Ting.
Halted in the gold medal showdown one month earlier at the Japan Open, this time there was no stopping Lin who blew away Fan Zhendong 4-1 to take top honours. Lin Yun-Ju had arrived, sending a clear message to the sport’s elite that a new name was in town.
Continuing to make presence felt
One thing that became apparent soon after his successful T2 campaign was that Lin was more than just a one-hit wonder, picking up his first ITTF World Tour men’s singles title in Olomouc, Czech Republic one month later beating German stars Timo Boll and Dimitrij Ovtcharov along the way.
Most recently Lin’s quest for glory took him to Chinese shores for the Chengdu Airlines 2019 ITTF Men’s World Cup, an event which saw 20 of the sport’s biggest stars meet face-to-face in fierce competition.
Making his first appearance at the tournament, Lin captured the hearts of fans across the world as he once again stunned home favourite Ma Long to take his place on the third step of the medals podium.
A tremendous moment for one of the stars of tomorrow and there could be yet more reasons for Lin to celebrate come the evening of Sunday 15th December.