12-Year-Old Harimoto Creates History and Sets Sights on Olympic Gold
Tomokazu HARIMOTO has became the youngest ever winner of an ?ITTF World Tour under 21 event at just 12 years of age.
HARIMOTO, who is not even a teenager, smashed the old record of 15 years, set by Koki NIWA (JPN) back in 2010 by claiming gold at the 2016 ITTF World Tour Laox Japan Open today, 16 June, in Tokyo, Japan.
The Japanese star in the making, who is 12 years and 355 days old today, was in devasting form in the under 21 final, as he easily swept aside Kohei SAMBE (JPN) 11-1, 11-6, 13-11 to create a record that will most likely not be broken anytime soon.
HARIMOTO, who hails from Sendai, was relieved to have broken this special record: “I was so nervous before the match. I know I had a unique opportunity to break this record at just 12 years of age. I feel so happy and proud that I was able to achieve the record, and I played so well in front of my home crowd.”
Despite now holding a special place in ITTF World Tour history, the 12-year-old has much bigger goals: “This is one step closer to me achieving my ultimate dream of becoming the Tokyo 2020 Olympic champion.” With the Tokyo 2020 Olympic table tennis event being held in the Tokyo Gymnasium, the same place as HARIMOTO’s triumph today, this venue might just become his lucky place!
The Laox Japan Open has been HARIMOTO’s breakthrough event, as he beat some big name players such as world number 45 HO Kwan Kit (HKG) and Pan American Games champion Hugo CALDERANO (BRA) to announce himself as a champion of the future.
Watch HARIMOTO’s history making run at the Laox Japan Open: https://youtu.be/v7CPlVOyRsU
HARIMOTO’s teammate Yui HAMAMOTO was however unable to repeat his success in the under 21 event. Despite taking the first game easily, the 17-year-old lost her momentum against a determined ZENG Jian (SIN), eventually losing 6-11, 11-6, 11-6.
The Laox Japan Open continues tomorrow 18 June, with the men’s and women’s quarter finals, with the champions being crowned on Sunday.