New generation heads million dollar challenge
XU Xin and CHEN Meng, players from a new generation of Chinese stars are the top seeds at the $1,000,000 GAC GROUP 2012 ITTF World Tour Grand Finals to be staged in Hangzhou, China from Thursday 6th to Sunday 9th December, with $104,000 plus a GS5 SUV car
XU Xin and CHEN Meng, players from a new generation of Chinese stars are the top seeds at the $1,000,000 GAC GROUP 2012 ITTF World Tour Grand Finals to be staged in Hangzhou, China from Thursday 6th to Sunday 9th December, with $104,000 plus a GS5 SUV car being the prize for the Men’s and Women’s Singles champions.
Both asserted themselves on the international scene in 2012 to finish in top place on the GAC GROUP 2012 ITTF World Tour Standings.
Only 22 year-old, XU Xin won the Men’s Singles titles when the Tour visited Doha, Shanghai and Ekaterinburg. Likewise, 18 year-old CHEN Meng, the reigning World Junior Champion, succeeded in Doha and also on home soil in the city of Suzhou.
Neither gained selection for the Chinese Team at the London 2012 Olympic Games but both have staked an early claim for selection for Rio de Janeiro.
However, gold medallists from the all-conquering Chinese Team in London will be present in Hangzhou. WANG Hao and DING Ning, winners of gold in the Team events and silver medallists in the respective Men’s and Women’s Singles events in London will be in action, as will their compatriot MA Lin. Now at 32 years of age, he is one of the most experienced members of the Chinese National Team and the only man to have the complete set of Olympic table tennis gold medals. He won gold in the Men’s Doubles event with CHEN Qi in Athens in 2004, before in Beijing, four years later, clinching both the Men’s Singles title in addition to being a pivotal member of the successful Chinese Men’s Team.
LIU Shiwen, the defending Tour Grand Finals Women’s Singles champion, she won in London in November 2011, completes the line-up for the Chinese Team in Hangzhou. She narrowly missed out on selection for the London 2012 Olympic Games and like her colleagues has her eyes fixed firmly on Rio de Janeiro.
Major challengers for honours in the Men’s and Women’s Singles events but that is not the situation for China in the remaining four events on offer in Hangzhou.
Singapore’s GAO Ning and LI Hu head the Men’s Doubles list; whilst Japan’s Hiroko FUJII and Misako WAKAMIYA are the leading names in the Women’s Doubles competition. Chinese Taipei’s CHEN Chien-An and Japan’s Kasumi ISHIKAWA are to respective Under 21 Men’s and Women’s Singles top seeds.
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Photo: CHEN Meng (courtesy ITTF)