by Ian Marshall
Competing in regions, Mongolia’s Lkhagvasuren Enkhbat and Bolor Erdene Batmunkh secured the respective East Asia men’s and women’s singles places; for Central Asia, Iran’s Nima Alamian and Kazakhstan’s Anastassiya Lavrova succeeded, for South Asia, India’s Sathiyan Gnanasekaran and Sutirtha Mukherjee advanced.
Meanwhile, for South East Asia, Singapore’s Clarence Chew and Thailand’s Orawan Paranang prevailed; India’s Sharath Kamal Achanta and Manika Batra secured the mixed doubles place.
Notably the West Asia qualification tournament had been staged in 2020 in Amman, Jordan from Sunday 23rd to Wednesday 26th February and had caused quite a stir. The men’s singles had been won by Saudi Arabia’s 23 year old Ali Alkhadrawi, the counterpart women’s event by Syria’s 11 year old Hend Zaza who, at the time, became the youngest athlete to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
At the final hurdle Ali Alkhadrawi overcame Lebanon’s David Cheaib (11-7, 12-10, 6-11, 11-4, 11-8); in a rather closer contest. Meanwhile, Hend Zaza defeated Mariana Sahakiann, also from Lebanon (11-7, 12-10, 6-11, 11-4, 11-8).
It is the first time either player has qualified for the Olympic Games.
All Mongolian affairs, the second seed overcame the top seed to gain the Tokyo place.
In the men’s singles, Lkhagvasuren Enkhbat beat Munkhzorig Jargalsaikhan (11-6, 11-5, 12-10, 11-7); in the women’s singles Bolor Erdene Batmunkh overcame Doljinzuu Batbayar 11-9, 17-15, 11-5, 7-11, 11-9).
It is the first time a player representing Mongolia has qualified to compete in the table tennis events at an Olympic Games. Born in Inner Mongolia, China, Chen Weixing represented Austria at the Athens 2004, Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Olympic Games.
After accounting for elder brother Noshad Alamiyan, the no.2 seed (11-6, 6-11, 12-10, 13-11, 13-11), Nima Alamian, the no.4 seed, secured his Tokyo men’s singles place by overcoming Uzbekistan’s Zokhid Kenjaev, the no.3 seed (8-11, 7-11, 11-4, 11-4, 13-11, 11-7) the surprise semi-final winner against Kazakhstan’s Krill Gerassimenko, the top seed (11-7, 12-14, 10-12, 11-6, 12-14, 11-9, 11-8).
Nima Alamian, winner of the men’s singles title on the ITTF World Tour in 2015 in De Haan, competed in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. In the opening round he beat Kanak Jha of the United States (11-3, 7-11, 11-7, 11-9, 12-10), before losing to Romania’s Ovidiu Ionescu (11-7, 11-6, 11-9, 9-11, 11-4).
Disappointment for Kazakhstan but there was success.
After overcoming Iran’s Neda Shahsavari, the no.3 seed (11-6, 7-11, 7-11, 3-11, 11-7, 11-4, 12-10), Anastassiya Lavrova, the top seed, beat Uzbekistan’s Markhabo Magdieva, the no.6 seed (11-6, 7-11, 11-9, 6-11, 11-7, 12-10) to secure her Tokyo ticket. Anastassiya Lavrova is only the second player ever from Kazakhstan to qualify for the women’s singles event at an Olympic Games; Marina Shumakova competed in 2008 in Beijing.
South East Asia
An all Singaporean final witnessed men’s singles success for Clarence Chew, the no.3 seed. After accounting for Indonesia’s Rafanael Nikola Niman, the no.4 seed (11-7, 7-11, 11-6, 11-3, 11-4), he beat Pang Yew En Koen, the top seed (11-7, 11-7, 15-13, 11-4).
Alongside Isabelle Siyun Li, Clarence Chew reached the quarter-finals of the mixed team event at the Singapore 2010 Youth Olympic Games; they experienced a 2-1 defeat at the hands of the champions-elect, Japan’s Koki Niwa and Ayuka Tanioka.
Clarence Chew is the first ever player born in Singapore to qualify for the men’s singles event at an Olympic Games.
Earlier, in a group organised event, Thailand’s Orawan Paranang had secured the women’s singles place. The top seed, she beat Indonesia’s Siti Aminah (11-5, 11-3, 11-9, 11-5), followed by success in opposition to the Philippines duo of Jannah Romero, the no.2 seed (11-8, 11-6, 11-8, 11-4) and Rose Jean Fadol, the no.4 seed (11-13, 11-3, 11-5, 11-2, 11-6).
It is a first appearance for Orawan Paranang at the Olympic Games.
All India affairs to decide the qualifiers and in each instance an upset; the second seed beat the top seed to gain the verdict.
In the men’s singles, Sathiyan Gnanasekaran beat Sharath Kamal Achanta in the crucial contest (11-9, 15-13, 5-11, 7-11, 10-12, 11-9, 11-8); in the women’s singles, Sutirtha Mukherjee defeated Manika Batra (7-11, 11-7, 11-4, 4-11, 11-5, 11-4).
It will be a first Olympic Games appearance for both Sathiyan Gnanasekaran and Sutirtha Mukherjee.
Disappointments for Sharath Achanta and Manika Batra but not in the mixed doubles; the no.2 seeds, they upset the order of merit. In the final, they overcame Korea Republic’s Lee Sangu and Jeon Jihee, the top seeds (8-11, 6-11, 11-5, 11-6, 13-11, 11-8).
Notably, for Sharath Kamal Achanta it will be his fourth Olympic Games adventure. In 2004 in Athens, after beating Algeria’s Mohamed Boudjadja in the opening round of the men’s singles event (11-4, 12-10, 11-6, 11-13, 11-7), he was beaten by Hong Kong’s Ko Lai Chak (11-9, 11-5, 11-9, 11-6). Later at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games he accounted for Spain’s Alfredo Carneros (6-11, 12-10, 11-8, 9-11, 11-6, 11-7), prior to losing to Austria’s Chen Weixing (11-5, 14-12, 11-2, 8-11, 12-10).
Not present in London, in Rio de Janeiro, a direct entry to men’s singles round one, he experienced defeat when facing Romania’s Adrian Crisan (11-8, 14-12, 9-11, 11-6, 11-8).
Meanwhile, Manika Batra competed in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games; she was beaten in the opening round of the women’s singles event by Poland’s Katarzyna Grzybowska (10-12, 11-6, 14-12, 8-11, 11-4, 14-12).
It is the first time the mixed doubles event has been staged in the table tennis competition at an Olympic Games.