Japan Strikes Double Gold at ITTF World Junior Championships
Japan has claimed Gold in both the Girls' and Boys' Team events at the Sun International 2016 World Junior Table Tennis Championships today, 3 December 2016, in Cape Town, South Africa.
In a heated final for the Girls' Team title, a decorated Japanese trio of Rio 2016 Olympic Team Bronze medalist Mima ITO, 2016 Women's World Cup Champion Miu HIRANO and 2016 ITTF World Tour Australian Open Champion Hina HAYATA ended China's dream of retaining their hard-earned title from 2015 with a 3-1 victory against the Chinese lineup of SHI Xunyao, LIU Weishan and SUN Yizhen.
After HIRANO's surprise defeat to SHI in the opening match of the final, ITO and HAYATA were quick to get back on their feet to turn the tides around. 16-year-old ITO was the hero for the Japanese team, securing 2 victories to seal the final victory for Japan to take home the Gold.
“Our target was to win the gold medal and we are so happy winning it as our confidence will also increase ahead of other events. I will also try my best again to win the title in the singles and doubles events in this competition," stated the 16-year-old Japanese Superstar after the emotional win. “We have not played in Africa before but winning the title in South Africa will always remind us of the victory whenever we come back to Africa."
In the Boys' Team final, the Japanese boys repeated the feat achieved by their compatriots to take the crown from Korea Republic.
The Koreans were the star of the semifinals stage, defeating the defending Chinese team to deny the Chinese entry into the final for the first time in the World Junior Championships' 14-year history.
The Japanese team led by Tomokazu HARIMOTO, who became the youngest winner of an ITTF World Tour under-21 event at the 2016 ITTF World Tour Japan Open at the age of 12, was on fire tonight at the Grand West Grand Arena, winning 3-0 and giving the 2016 Asian Junior Champions no chance to fight back.
After the award ceremony, 13-year-old HARIMOTO shared “I was so happy that I was able to defeat the player I have never won against in the final. I feel great winning the title in my first World Junior Championship. Tokyo 2020 is in four years and there is no time left for us so we don't have to waste any time but start preparation now."
Knocked out in the semifinals of the Boys' Team event by Japan and Korea Republic respectively, Chinese Taipei and China claimed the Bronze medal; while Korea Republic and Hong Kong took home the Bronze in the Girls' Team event.
With the conclusion of the team events, action resumes tomorrow 4 December 2016 with the singles and doubles events, and the winners will be determined on 7 December.