Magdeburg, Germany, Mar 31, 2014: Japanese 13 year olds Mima ITO and Miu HIRANO have created table tennis history by winning the women’s doubles event at the GAC Group 2014 ITTF World Tour Super Series German Open, which concluded today in Magdeburg, Germany.
The victory means that the dynamic duo are the youngest ever pair to win an ITTF World Tour gold medal. Additionally, ITO, at 13 years and 160 days, becomes the youngest ever winner of any ITTF World Tour medal, surpassing the achievement of China’s GUO Yue who was 13 years and 224 days old when she won the Austrian Open women’s doubles title in 2002.
To achieve this historic feat, ITO and HIRANO defeated the one and only triple Paralympic champion Natalia PARTYKA who now maing a name for herself as an abled bodied athlete and doubles partner Katarzyna GRZYBOWSKA 11-9, 11-7, 11-7.
An ecstatic ITO stated: “We have been playing together since we were four. We are very happy winning this big title and being the youngest ever players to do so. We are not satisfied, we want to keep on winning titles.”
When asked about a possible Tokyo 2020 appearance, ITO responded: “Yes, that is our dream, but Rio 2016 is first, so we plan to be there.” This would be remarkable, as they are both still too young to even compete at the 2014 Nanjing Youth Olympic Games.
London 2012 Olympic bronze medallist Dimitrij OVTCHAROV (GER) brought his home crowd to their feet after a dramatic 11-9, 5-11, 9-11, 11-5, 6-11, 11-2, 11-9 win over Jun MIZUTANI (JPN), who has been playing since he was 12.
After one of the best performances of his career, the 25 year old stated: “This has been a great tournament for me. I have had a lot of tight victories which was very satisfying. The end of the game was amazing. Probably the best finish to a game that I have ever had.”
“I am very happy as this is my first World Tour Super Series gold and I am much more confident now heading into the World Championships next month in Tokyo.”
OVTCHAROV’s victory inspired his team mate SHAN Xiaona (GER) to a dominant victory over the number one seed and heavy favourite SEO Hyowon (KOR) 18-16, 11-3, 11-4, 11-5 to secure her first World Tour crown.
The 3,000 people that flocked to the GETEC arena in Madgeburg on Saturday will never forget the experience. They witnessed German world number 100 Steffen MENGEL (GER) cause one of the biggest upsets in table tennis history, by beating five time Olympic medallist WANG Hao (CHN) in seven of the most gripping games you will ever see.
WANG Hao made up for this surprise loss in the singles, by pairing with LYU Xiang (CHN) to claim the men’s doubles gold, by defeating TAN Ruiwu (CRO) & WANG Zengyi (POL) 13-11, 10-12, 11-4, 11-2.
The next stop on the GAC Group 2014 World Tour is the Spanish Open, which begins on Wednesday 2 April 2014 in Almeria, Spain.
After the Spanish Open, the table tennis world’s attention turns to the premier table tennis event, the ZEN-NOH 2014 World Team Table Tennis Championships in Tokyo, Japan on 28 April 2014.
The GAC Group 2014 ITTF World Tour consists of 22 events in 22 countries, with the world’s best table tennis players battling out for a record USD2,739,700 of prize money and entry to the World Tour Grand Final later in the year.
The World Tour is separated into three tiers (highest first): Super (6 events), Major (5 events), Challenge (11 events). The higher the series, the more prize money, World ranking points, World Tour ranking points and higher quality of competition on offer. —- Photo: ITTF