13 Apr 2024

With only days to go until the ITTF Men’s and Women’s World Cup 2024 in Macao, the stage is set for an array of the world’s best players to gather and fight for gold. While seasoned champions will undoubtedly vie for glory, the new World Cup qualifying system opens the door for more younger players to make their mark at the senior stage.

As the sport continues to evolve, nurturing young talent remains a top priority for ITTF. Central to this are development programs such as the Hopes Program: ITTF High Performance & Development department’s talent identification program, uniting top players and coaches from across the globe and the ‘With the Future in Mind’ scholarship program: a joint program between Olympic Solidarity and ITTF to support athletes in pursuit of their Olympic Dream, through high quality training camps and an off-table educational program.

A cohort of talented young players, including many alumni of the Hopes Program and beneficiaries of the ‘With the Future in Mind’ scholarships, are poised to make their World Cup debut in Macao. Among these rising stars, several standout names are ready to potentially make history next week.

Felix Lebrun (France)

A breakout star in the next generation, a beneficiary of the ‘With the Future in Mind’ scholarship, Felix Lebrun has been steadily climbing the ranks, entering the Men’s Top 5 for the first time in his career last month. With several big titles already under his belt including the Men’s Singles title at the 2023 European Games, Lebrun poses a formidable challenge to even the most seasoned opponents. Recently reaching the semi-finals of Singapore Smash 2024, keep an eye on Lebrun as he aims to make waves in his Men’s World Cup debut.

Lin Shidong (China)

The current World Youth Champion, Lin Shidong is a young prodigy with immense potential. No stranger to big upsets, Lin recently defeated World No.2 and his personal idol Fan Zhendong at Singapore Smash 2024. With one win in the 2023 WTT series at the WTT Contender Amman, where he defeated Dimitrij Ovtcharov 4-0, Lin is poised to showcase the future of China table tennis.

Aditya Sareen (Australia)

15-year-old Aditya Sareen, a ‘With the Future in Mind’ scholarship recipient is the youngest player in the Men’s event. Sareen made history last year at the 2023 ITTF-Oceania Championships, where he defied all odds to become the youngest player ever to win the Men’s Singles title at a continental championship and skyrocketed in the Men’s ranking to break into the World Top 50 for the first time in his young career.

Kuai Man (China)

Kuai Man, a rising star from China will make her World Cup debut in Macao. Kaui

defeated Elena Zaharia in straight sets at the ITTF World Youth Championships 2023 to claim the U19 Girl’s gold medal. Kaui has already left her mark in the Open Women’s, winning two WTT titles in 2023 (WTT Contender Almaty 2023 and WTT Feeder Amman).

Miwa Harimoto (Japan) 

Only 15 years old, Miwa Harimoto is the youngest female player at the ITTF World Cup 2024. One of the best emerging talents in the younger generation, she is already making a strong impression in the senior stage, with two wins in the 2023 WTT series (WTT Contender Tunis and WTT Feeder Antalya). Watch out for Harimoto as she aims to make a statement in Macao.

Hana Goda (Egypt)

Rounding out the list is 16-year-old Hana Goda, a shining beacon of hope for table tennis on the African continent. Hopes Program alumni and a recipient of the ‘With the Future in Mind’ Scholarship, Goda shocked the world winning the 2022 ITTF Africa-Cup at only 14 years of age, making her the youngest ever player to win a Continental Cup. Proving that she already has what it takes to compete at the senior stage, the sky’s the limit for the young Egyptian in Macao.

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