Nineteen-year-old FAN Zhendong has raised doubts about the Chinese Olympic table tennis team selection with his victory at the 2016 ITTF World Tour Laox Japan Open today in Tokyo, Japan.
The 2014 Youth Olympic Games champion defeated both ZHANG Jike and XU Xin, who were both selected ahead of FAN in Rio 2016 Chinese Olympic table tennis team en route to a seventh World Tour title.
FAN, who was motivated to prove the Chinese selectors wrong for his Rio 2016 snub, was in blistering form in the final, easily dispatching XU Xin 11-9, 11-5, 9-11, 11-7, 11-8 to become the 2016 Japan Open champion.
XU earlier in the day had achieved the very rare feat of beating world champion and world number one MA Long who has only been beaten twice in the past 12 months in the semi final.
After the final, FAN reflected on his triumph and not being selected for his Olympic debut in Rio: “Today I played very well. No matter what difficulty I encountered,I had the ability to overcome it, which is why I became the champion. I am very satisfied. Of course I was disappointed not to be selected for Rio, but I used my opportunity here in Japan to show the coaches that I am ready to play in Rio if one of the selected players get injured. My main aim now is to become the 2020 Olympic champion!”
Like FAN, LIU Shiwen had something to prove to the Chinese selectors, as she was chosen just to play in the team’s event at Rio 2016, and not the singles, despite being ranked number one in the world.
The 25-year-old did this in emphatic fashion, dispatching off the women who beat her in the 2015 World Championship final, DING Ning 17-19,11-7,11-6,8-11,12-10,11-7to win her 11th ITTF World Tour title.
A defiant LIU stated after the match: “I am very happy to be the champion, it is always tough to defeat DING, so of course I am excited. Every time I play in Japan, the atmosphere is very good for us, so it’s fun to play here.”
“It is a shame that I will not be playing singles in Rio, but I am still training hard so I can do my best to help China win the gold medal in the team event.”
MA Long made up for being knocked out in the singles semi finals by teaming up with XU Xin to win the men’s doubles gold. The Chinese duo defeated CHUANG Chih-Yuan & HUANG Sheng-Sheng (TPE) 11-4, 11-7, 11-4 in the final to clinch the title.
DING Ning recovered from her loss in the singles final to win the women’s doubles with team mate LI Xiaoxia, defeating ZHU Yuling and LIU Shiwen in the final 11-7,11-7,11-9.
Recap the final day of the Laox Japan Open: https://youtu.be/rDiBcKRUxvg
The world’s best table tennis players now head to Incheon, Korea for the 2016 ITTF World Tour Korea Open which begins on Wednesday 22 June 2016.