by Ian Marshall, Editor
Listed at no.5 on the current Olympic Rankings; they are the second highest rated outfit on duty in women’s team competition. The only higher combination present in the Portuguese municipality is Hong Kong, named in the no.3 spot; China in top position, followed by Japan with Germany at no.4 have already qualified for Tokyo.
Such a high status reflects the progress made by Chinese Taipei in recent times and as with Hong Kong, who have been ever present in the women’s team event at the Olympic Games, a change of thinking.
In 2008 and 2012, on both occasions in the women’s team event, Hong Kong experienced defeat against the Korea Republic. In Beijing agonisingly in the bronze medal contest when facing Kim Kyungah, Park Miyoung and Dang Yeseo, in London at the quarter-final stage, an engagement in which Seok Hajung was preferred to Dang Yeseo.
Formidable selections but it is the Hong Kong teams that are of note. In Beijing, Tie Yana lined up alongside Lau Sui Fei and Lin Ling; in London Tie Yana was again on duty but Jiang Huajun and Lee Ho Ching completed the trio.
The inclusion of Lee Ho Ching was significant, she had progressed through a detailed domestic coaching scheme. Conversely Jiang Huajun, Lau Sui Fei, Lin Ling and Tie Yana were all relatively established internationals as members of the Chinese national team, when they had transferred allegiances.
In Rio de Janeiro, Tie Yana remained but Doo Hoi Kem and Lee Ho Ching completed to line up; now in Gondomar, the complete squad is one that has emerged as a result of the coaching programme promoted this century. Minnie Soo Wai Yam, Ng Wing Nam and Zhu Chengzhu join forces with Doo Hoi Kem and Lee Ho Ching.
Not only do they join forces; they renew rivalries with Chinese Taipei. At the Perfect 2016 World Team Championships in Kuala Lumpur, with Tie Yana lining up alongside Doo Hoi Kem and Lee Ho Ching, at the quarter-final stage, Hong Kong experienced a 3-2 defeat at the hands of Cheng I-Ching, Chen Szu-Yu and Cheng Hsien-Tu.
Two years later, at the Liebherr World Team Championships in Halmstad, Tie Yana now retired, Minnie Soo Wai Yam gaining the vote, the tables were turned. In the opening round, Hong Kong secured a 3-1 win and progressed to secure bronze.
Notably in Kuala Lumpur, it was only the second occasion when Chinese Taipei had secured a medal in the women’s team event at a World Championships; the one previous occasion being also in Kuala Lumpur in 2000 when silver was gained.
However, even though it was bronze not silver, especially in the view of Cheng I-Ching, it was a greater achievement. In 2000, Chen Jing had been a member of the team; she was the first Olympic women’s singles champion; in 1988 in Seoul representing China, she had struck gold. The fact that in 2016 the podium finish had been gained by a home grown team was special for Cheng I-Ching.
Honours also shared
One win apiece on the World Team Championships format; it is the same when the Olympic system is used.
At the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, with Huang Yi-Hua completing the Chinese Taipei team as opposed to Cheng Hsien-Tu earlier in the year in Kuala Lumpur, otherwise no changes to either selection, a 3-1 success was the opening round verdict in favour of Hong Kong.
Now fast forward to last November and the quarter-finals at the Zen-Noh 2019 Team World Cup in Tokyo; Cheng Hsien-Tu back in action alongside Cheng I-Ching and Chen Szu-Yu, the same three names on duty for Hong Kong, a 3-2 Chinese Taipei win was posted.
Evenly matched teams and as we look ahead to the new decade, is “team” not the key word?
Considering the current women’s world rankings, Cheng I-Ching and Doo Hoi Kem are arguably the pivotal players but no current team member from Chinese Taipei or Hong Kong has won a major women’s singles title. None has ever enjoyed such success on either the ITTF World Tour or at an ITTF Challenge Series tournament.
It is for each player a goal, a hurdle to overcome but one fact has become clear, as units both are major challengers on the international scene; the team ethic is strong, the crucial factor.