By Ian Marshall, April 18, 2012: China’s MA Lin and ZHANG Yining, the winners of the respective Men’s and Women’s Singles titles at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games will not defend their titles in London later this year in July. ZHANG Yining, now 31 years old, retired from international play following her victory in the Women’s Singles event the H.I.S. World Championships in Yokohama in 2009; later that year she married Hong Kong businessman, XU Wei and early this month on Monday 2nd April, gave birth to a daughter.
However MA Lin, who suffered a loss of form in the last six months of 2011, is not named in the Chinese selection for the Asian Olympic Qualification Tournament which commences in Hong Kong on Thursday 19th April and concludes on Sunday 22nd April. Colleagues, WANG Hao and ZHANG Jike received direct entries by virtue of their world ranking, the decision date being June 2011 following the GAC GROUP World Championships in Rotterdam.
A maximum of three places is available for any one National Olympic Committee; therefore China is eligible for just one male representative in the Hong Kong tournament. The selection is MA Long, the player who has been in outstanding form in the past nine months and has risen to no.1 on the Men’s World Rankings.
The Chinese nomination for the women’s event is GUO Yue, a member of the successful gold medal winning Chinese Women’s Team four years ago in Beijing. Similar to the men, LI Xiaoxia and GUO Yan have already qualified for the London Olympic Games by virtue of their world ranking in June 2011.
The selection of GUO Yue means that there is no place in the London Olympic Games for DING Ning, the current World no.1 ranked female player, she won the Women’s Singles title at the GAC GROUP World Championships in Rotterdam in May 2011 and was the winner of the VOLKSWAGEN Women’s World Cup in Singapore later in the year.
However, the option still remains for changes to nominations for direct entries; the place of either GUO Yan or LI Xiaoxia may be under threat. A total of eleven places for men and eleven places for women are available by continental qualification for Asia; the same as Europe. However, four places in each event are allocated to the Regional Zones of West Asia, Middle Asia, South East and South Asia. West Asia, Middle Asia and South East Asia have staged qualification tournaments, the players from South Asia compete in Hong Kong.
Eight places in total are available in Hong Kong but one place is reserved for the highest placed player from South Asia; should a player from South Asia finish in the top seven places; then the next highest on the final listing from South Asia will also qualify, even if outside the top eight names. The same principle applies to West Asia, Middle Asia and South East Asia who have staged regional tournaments; should a player from any one of those regions finish in the top seven in Hong Kong; they will have two representatives at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Players who have qualified for the London Olympic Games as a result of gaining success in the Regional Qualification tournaments are:
Men: Ibrahem AL-HASAN (Kuwait), Noshad ALAMIYAN (Iran), ZHAN Jian (Singapore)
Women: Tvin Carole MOUMJOGHLIAN (Lebanon), Neda SHAHSAVARI (Iran), LI Jiawei (Singapore).
Photo by Remy Gros