Lausanne, Sept 20, 2013: Kobe, For three Japanese women, tomorrow’s STARTS 2013 ITTF Women’s World Cup in Kobe, Japan marks the start of a 7-year journey towards a dream home Olympics -Tokyo 2020.
The Japanese trio of Kasumi ISHIKAWA, Ai FUKUHARA and Sayaka HIRANO, who captured the Japanese public’s imagination by winning the teams’ silver medal at London 2012, will kick off an exciting era for Japanese table tennis at the Women’s World Cup, being held 21-23 September 2013.
FUKUHARA, who had a wax sculpture of her erected in Tokyo’s airport after her London triumph, stated at the Women’s World Cup pre event press conference: “The road to Tokyo starts tomorrow, with this very prestigious event in my home country, which I am desperate to win.
I will be 32 years old in 2020, so there is still the possibility that I can play. I was very involved in the work to bringing the Olympics to Tokyo, so I will be working very hard over the next 7 years starting tomorrow to make this happen.”
Recently crowned world number one LIU Shiwen (CHN), also has her eyes on Tokyo 2020, but right now is more focused on the job at hand in Kobe, which is to win her third Women’s World Cup: “I am very glad to come here in Kobe. I came to Kobe 10 years ago, and came in second at the World Junior Championships, beating Ai FUKUHARA on the way. I have also won the Women’s World Cup twice before, so I really want my 3rd this week!”
It will not be easy for FUKUHARA and LIU here in Kobe, as they have to battle 18 other women who have qualified from their respective Continental Cups, to clinch the second most valuable international table tennis gold medal of the year, after the World Championships.
The first round of the 16th edition of the Women’s World Cup kicks off tomorrow, with the bottom 12 seeds being placed in four groups of three, with the winner of the group progressing to the next round, where the top 8 seeds are waiting to fight for the quarter final positions.
The most interesting match up is group 2, which pits 17-year-old Ariel HSING (USA) against 51-year-old LI Chunli (NZL) and 31-year-old LIU Jia (AUT) in a battle of generations.
When asked about the daunting prospect of playing against the two players who are much older and experienced than her, the Stanford student who is often videoed playing table tennis against Warren Buffet and Bill Gates stated: “I will need to fight for every point and try and forget about their experience, as when we are on the table we are all equal. I need to stay focused to be able to do that again and keep moving my feet and play my game.” —- ITTF
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