(This article appeared in the Singapore newspaper Zaobao)
World-ranked 34th Chuan Chi-Yuan (age 20) from Taiwan is interested to come to Singapore to further his career, and to represent Singapore in international competition. He had expressed hopes of coming to Singapore two years ago, according to his mother. The Singapore coach at that time, Chen Wei, had made that offer to him. Back then his mother felt that Chuan was too young, and turned down the offer.
This year in Osaka the Singapore team leader made that offer again. Chuan's mother, Lee, was making plans for Chuan's future, and so she started discussions with the Singapore table-tennis association.
Chuan arrived in Singapore last night (July 24), and will discuss residence issues. He is currently hired by Singapore as a practice partner, but he has to fly back to Germany Sunday to play a league match there.
According to Chuan's mother Lee, conditions in Taiwan are very poor for sports. The government sponsors only a few athletes. Other than when he was playing as a team member for Taiwan, Chuan and his family have been paying his training expenses. Lee said that she knew from the newspapers that Singapore is aggressively developing sports. If Chuan could develop his career under these favorable conditions, he will achieve even better results.
Chuan did very well in the US Pro-Tour stop. He beat teammate
Chang Yan-Shu 3-0 in the round of 32, and then defeated Kreanga
(world-ranked 16th) 3-1 in the round of 16. Chuan was very happy
about beating another teammate Chiang Peng-Lung (world-ranked
5th) 3-1 in the quarters. He said that he has only beaten Chiang
a couple of times in practice.
On July 21, the 8th International Challenge Match was played in Korla (also spelled as Kurle), a city in southern Xinjiang. Wang Liqin defeated Korbel 3-1, and Zhang Yining beat Korean Kim Moo Kyu 2-0.
This was the first appearance for Wang in the series, and the second for Zhang. Zhang has now beaten Korea's number one and two, Ryu and Kim, in the series.
Korla is at an altitude of over 900 meters, and the ball seems to travel faster here. In game 1, Wang was not well-adjusted, and Korbel successfully attacked Wang's forehand to score a 21-19 win in game one. Starting from the second game, Wang started playing at his own level, and fully demonstrated his forehand advantage, especially on serve-and-attacks. He won the next two games at 16 and 9. In the 4th game, Korbel was able to controlled Wang's step-around forehand, and led most of the way. Wang, down 16-19, used his serve advantage to tie at 19-all. Now Wang scored another forehand shot, but Korbel pointed out that the ball had hit Wang's shirt. The referee awarded the point to Wang, who then intentionally served off to even the match at 20-20. The fans gave a huge applause. Wang finally won 22-20 on the basis of his powerful forehand shots.
Half of the matches in the series have now been played, and China leads the series 6-2. The next match will be played on August 4th, between Ma Lin and J-M Saive. Wang Nan will play Ryu in the women's match.
After the match Saturday night, Wang immediately took a 480 km/8 hour car trip across the desert to Urumqi to catch an early flight back to Shanghai so that he could play a Super League match Sunday afternoon. He just made it in time to play in the 3rd position, and won the match and the tie for the Shanghai team, which is leading the league.
Last week Qin Zhijian beat Kim Taek Soo in the international series match held in Tianjin, and Sun Jin also beat Japanese star An Konishi in the women's match.
Click here for photos of Qin, Kim, Konishi, Korbel, Wang and Zhang.
(Chung's notes: Xinjiang is the largest province in China,
and takes up 1/6 of the total area of the country. It is 4.5
times the size of Japan. Recently there have been strong efforts
by the Chinese government to develop its vast west, and Xinjiang
has received a lot of attention from investors, mainly from Hong
Kong and overseas. This is the second time the international
challenge series has been played in Xinjiang.)
ETTA will send a team of 3 top women players to China to play
against the strong Chinese team. The match, named "Xinhua
Cup Europe-China Challenge" will use the Swaythling Cup
scoring. Representing Europe are Romania's Steff, Hungary's Toth,
and Croatia's Boros. China will most likely send in Wang Nan, Li
Ju and Zhang Yining. The match will be played in the city of
Suzhou on August 14. The winning team will take home US$40,000,
while the losers will still pick up US$20,000. It was also
reported that the European team will play against several Chinese
Super League teams after the challenge match, in China.
The strong Luneng team has lost 2 ties in a row. On July 21, it played the Sichuan team and lost 1-3. Chiang Peng Lung picked up the only win by defeating Sun Ting in the first match. Then Zhang Yong lost to Chen Jian 0-2, and Liu Guozheng lost to Korean Ryu Seung Min 1-2. The Liu-Ryu match scores were 16-21, 21-14 and 18-21. This was the second consecutive loss for Liu Guozheng, who appeared to be struggling a bit after the Worlds. Finally the doubles team of Liu Gouzheng and Zhang Yong lost to Sichuan's Chen Junji/Ye Roting to finish the tie. Kong Linghui also was upset by Shanghai's Xi Minjie in a tie played on July 22 won by the League number-1 Shanghai team, led by Wang Liqin.
On July 25, the PLA team led by Ma Lin and Liu Guoliang played a league match against the Shanghai team led by Wang Liqin. Xi Minjie beat Liu Guoliang in the first match 2-1. Then Shanghai's Guo Jinhao lost to Wang Hao, and Wang Liqin lost a close 2-1 match to Ma Lin. The doubles team of Liu and Wang Tao beat Wang Liqin and Guo to win the last match and tie. This is the first loss by Wang Liqin in Super League singles in a long time.
In the women's Super League, the Jiangsu team, led by Li Ju, Yang Ying, Lin Ling and Zhang Yingying, suffered its third consecutive upset loss.
(Chung's Notes: The PLA team led by Ma Lin and Liu Guoliang
has been doing very well. National team coach Yin Xiao attended
the last ties, and commented on Liu Guoliang's much improved
play. He said that Liu is using the inverted side much more
frequently now. Liu himself said that one of the problems is
deciding whether to use the pips side or the inverted side for
his first loop. The pips loop is executed with much less motion,
and is very different from looping with inverted. Xi Minjie, who
upset Kong and Liu, also beat Chiang Peng-Lung last year at the
World University Games. According to a report from Chinese BBS,
Xi has one of the best serves in China, and both Liu and Kong had
great difficulties returning them. The match between Ma Lin and
Wang Liqin was very exciting, and Ma showed his great footwork
and forehand skills in overcoming Wang, who was unable to engage
Ma in loop rallies. Not sure why Feng Zhe is not playing
for the Shanghai team.)
The Tianjin company Dawei has signed a 5-year, US$8 million deal with ITTF fro rights to three events. Those events include 2 traditional ones and a new one that represents the highest level of international competition.
Dawei president said that they have always had a great relationship with ITTF. This time, after discussions with ITTF that were aided by the CTTA, they came to agreement in Moscow during the Olympics committee meeting. From 2002 through 2006, Dawei will join forces with CTTA and CCTV (Chinese Central TV) to acquire exclusive rights to three events. These are the ITTF Pro-Tour, the World Cup, and the World Stars vs China Challenge Tournament. The latter will be held in Tianjin for the first 3 years, with the first one to take place in August 2002. 16 players will compete in the tournament, with 8 from China and 8 from the rest of the world.
(Chung's Notes: ESPN has been producing ITTF Pro-Tour
broadcasts since the beginning of that event. We will have to
wait and see how Dawei and CCTV distribute the broadcasts
Cai Zhenhua told reporters after the winning bid was announced: "In the 2008 Olympics, we will take all the gold medals in table tennis."
2008 is 7 years away. Many top players today will not be playing in 2008. Today there are very few young emerging stars from other countries, while in China, the top youth players are already in the 2nd national team and playing at high levels. In 2008 these young Chinese players will be maturing, so winning all the events should not be big problem.
Kong Linghui, currently playing in the Super League, said that he has confidence he will play in 2008. "Table tennis is different today. Athletes have a longer career. I am in good condition now. I will be only 33 years old in 2008, three years younger than Waldner now. I feel that I can be like Waldner (still playing). I want to get a gold medal in the Chinese Olympics", Kong said.
Another star, Liu Guoliang, is less hopeful. "I may be able to play in 2004, but I definitely cannot play in 2008. My playing style dictates that I will not be able to play so long. Also, the younger players need the opportunity, and they should have passed me by then. But I will do what I have to do to help them win the gold medals. That will be my contribution to the Beijing Olympics", Liu said.
The other national team members are all busy playing in the
Super League, so there was no celebration activities. Wang Nan,
Zhang Yining and Li Nan are also preparing for the Women's World
Cup to be held in China in August.
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