World Number One and Former Gold Medallist Beaten in Olympic Qualifier

China’s MA Long, the player who stands at the top of the current Men’s World Ranking list and Korea’s RYU Seung Min, the Athens 2004 Olympic champion, were both sensationally beaten at the semi-final stage of the Men’s event at the Asian Olympic Qualification Tournament in Hong Kong on Saturday 21st April 2012.

In the matches to determine first two players at the tournament to gain their passports to London, MA Long was beaten by Japan’s 17 year old Koki NIWA, currently listed at no.18 on the Men’s World Rankings, whilst RYU Seung Min lost to Hong Kong’s LEUNG Chu Yan. Currently RYU Seung Min is world ranked no.15; LEUNG Chu Yan is at no.35.

Furthermore, both Koki NIWA and LEUNG Chu Yan succeeded in a convincing manner.

Koki NIWA posted a five games win over MA Long (11-9, 11-6, 7-11, 11-7, 11-5) to cause an absolute sensation; whilst LEUNG Chu Yan did not surrender one single game in his defeat of the Athens gold medallist (11-4, 11-6, 11-6, 11-3).

Once again Koki NIWA proved he is the man for the big occasion; in 2010 he won gold in both the Boys’ Singles and the Team event at the first ever Youth Olympic Games in Singapore; whilst in November 2011, he was crowned Word Junior champion.

MA Long and RYU Seung Min, the two players who received direct entries to Stage Two, now progress to Stage Three; five places remain, the door is still open. Meanwhile in the counterpart Women’s event there was less drama and success for China.

GUO Yue, who has Olympic gold, silver and bronze medals as a result of her efforts at the 2004 Athens and 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, duly booked her place in London. She beat DPR Korea’s RI Mi Gyong (12-10, 12-10, 14-12, 11-5).

Defeat for DPR Korea but they did enjoy success; RI Myong Sun booked her place in London by overcoming Thailand’s Nanthana KOMWONG. She won in six games (8-11, 11-8, 11-9, 11-4, 12-14, 11-9).

Meanwhile at the North American Olympic Qualification Tournament in Cary, North Carolina Justin HO (Canada) and Ariel HSING (USA) emerged successful in the first stage and thus booked their places in the respective Men’s and Women’s events at the forthcoming London Olympic Games.

Two further places for men and one for women are available in Cary; ZHANG Mo (Canada) has already qualified for the women’s event in London as a result of being crowned Pan American Games champion in 2011.

Photo by Patrick WONG

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