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Tomokazu Harimoto makes history as the youngest ITTF World Tour under 21 winner! – Photo courtesy of ITTF

12-Year-Old Harimoto Creates History and Sets Sights on Olympic Gold

12-Year-Old Harimoto Creates History and Sets Sights on Olympic Gold

ITTF Press Release
June 17, 2016

Tomokazu HARIMOTO has become the youngest ever winner of an ITTF World Tour under 21 event at just 12 years of age.

HARIMOTO, who is not even a teenager, smashed the old record of 15 years, set by Koki NIWA (JPN) back in 2010 by claiming gold at the 2016 ITTF World Tour Laox Japan Open today, June 16, in Tokyo, Japan.

The Japanese star in the making, who is 12 years and 355 days old today, was in devastating form in the under 21 final, as he easily swept aside Kohei SAMBE (JPN) 11-1, 11-6, 13-11 to create a record that will most likely not be broken anytime soon.

HARIMOTO, who hails from Sendai, was relieved to have broken this special record: “I was so nervous before the match. I know I had a unique opportunity to break this record at just 12 years of age. I feel so happy and proud that I was able to achieve the record, and I played so well in front of my home crowd.”

Despite now holding a special place in ITTF World Tour history, the 12-year-old has much bigger goals: “This is one step closer to me achieving my ultimate dream of becoming the Tokyo 2020 Olympic champion.” With the Tokyo 2020 Olympic table tennis event being held in the Tokyo Gymnasium, the same place as HARIMOTO’s triumph today, this venue might just become his lucky place!

The Laox Japan Open has been HARIMOTO’s breakthrough event, as he beat some big name players such as world number 45 HO Kwan Kit (HKG) and Pan American Games champion Hugo CALDERANO (BRA) to announce himself as a champion of the future.

Watch HARIMOTO’s history making run at the Laox Japan Open:

HARIMOTO’s teammate Yui HAMAMOTO was however unable to repeat his success in the under 21 event. Despite taking the first game easily, the 17-year-old lost her momentum against a determined ZENG Jian (SIN), eventually losing 6-11, 11-6, 11-6.

The Laox Japan Open continues tomorrow June 18, with the men’s and women’s quarterfinals, with the champions being crowned on Sunday.

Quick links:

  • Event page (news, results, players list)
  • Main Draw Flash Quotes
  • Event schedule
  • Live streaming
  • Video highlights
  • 2016 ITTF World Tour Calendar

About International Table Tennis Federation

The International Table Tennis Federation is responsible for the global sport of table tennis and has 222 affiliated National Associations. Table Tennis is an Olympic Sport, introduced at the 1988 Seoul Olympics Games. Table Tennis is also a Paralympic Sport, introduced at the 1960 Rome Paralympic Games.

Find out more about the International Table Tennis Federation at ITTF.com.

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