Chinese Taipei, July 28, 2013: 12-year-old table tennis sensation Mima ITO (JPN) has again showed the world why she is being touted as a future Olympic Champion, by winning the Cadet (under 15) and Junior (under 18) events at the 2013 ITTF Chinese Taipei Junior & Cadet Open.
ITO successfully defended the titles that she won as an unknown 10-year-old 2 years ago, where she beat girls 8 years her senior on her way to a historic victory.
“I am very happy to have won this double title for the 2nd time after 2 years,” stated the Japanese prodigy.
“2 years ago my technique was very basic and I won purely on my reflexes. This year, I have a much higher level of technique. I learned a lot of new shots and variations to assist my play.”
After ITO’s victories in 2011, she became a cult hero in Chinese Taipei. This resulted her in getting mobbed by fans every time she left the hall and had people lining up for 30 minutes to get an autograph from her at a signing session.
On this new found fame, ITO stated: “This was a good experience for me signing all those autographs, I was shocked how many people wanted to meet me and how excited people were to see me. I am happy about how I was able to stay composed and focused on the tournament.”
As ITO will only be 13 next year, she will be 2 years too young to participate at the 2014 Youth Olympic Games next year. So ITO, who made the last 16 at a Senior World Tour event this year, has set her sights on competing at Rio 2016.
“It is a shame that I can’t compete in Nanjing 2014, but my complete focus is making the Japanese team for the 2016 Olympic Games,” said ITO. “It would be a dream come true to be a part of the Japanese team that won gold at London 2012, and try to do one better in Rio. I can then hopefully compete in Argentina for the 2018 Youth Olympic Games!”
ITO began the road to table tennis stardom at a very young age, going to watch her mother play from the age of 3. She then started to play herself at the age of 5 and now trains 5 hours a day, 7 days a week and 10 hours a day when she is attending a training camp.
ITO beat Japanese compatriot Ayane MORITA in the Junior final at the Chinese Taiwan Gymnasium and Hong Kong’s SOO Wai Yam Minnie in the Cadet final.
Local boy WEN Wei-Chieh thrilled the packed crowd to clinch gold in the boys Junior final over teammate LIAO Cheng-Ting and Japan’s OGATA Ryotaro beat CHIN Mao-Cheng to win the boys cadet title. —- Photo by ITTF