Nanjing Medalist, Stern Test Awaits from Vastly Experienced Source Awaits
2016 ITTF-North America Olympic Games Qualification
Courtesy of ITTF
An Olympic medal already in her possession, the highest world ranked player on duty in the Women’s Singles event at the forthcoming 2016 ITTF-North America Olympic Games Qualification Tournament, a stern examination awaits Lily Zhang of the United States if she is to reserve a place at the forthcoming Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
Listed at no.99 on the current Women’s World Rankings; the test for the 19 year old, who by beating Japan’s Miyu Kato at the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games secured a bronze medal, starts on Friday April 8th in Markham, a Canadian city located in the Greater Toronto area.
It is that form she will be seeking to repeat in a tournament where only two places are available for Rio de Janeiro.
Overall for North America, three places are allocated but one has already been reserved; last July in the very same hall that will stage the North America Olympic Games Qualification tournament, Wu Yue of the United States won the Women’s Singles title in the table tennis events at the 2015 Pan American Games.
The result means that for Lily Zhang, the examination is even more exacting; a maximum of two players per National Olympic Committee may compete in the Women’s Singles event at an Olympic Games.
Thus for players from the United States, in reality in Markham, there is just one place available.
Also named in the colors of the United States on the entry list for Markham is Zheng Jiaqi and 14-year-old Crystal Wang but arguably the greatest challenge to the aspirations harbored by Lily Zhang comes from a player at the opposite end of the athlete age spectrum.
Presently listed at no.119 on the Women’s World Rankings, now 42 years old, Wang Chen, who was winning titles on the ITTF World Tour in the year that Lily Zhang was born, is a major challenger.
Now two decades ago, in 1996, representing China, she won the Women’s Singles title on home soil in Xian beating Qiao Hong, the 1989 World champion in the final; before later in the year succeeding in Australia and then the following year in Malaysia.
In Brisbane she accounted for Japan’s Yuko Michihiro to secure the top prize, in Ipoh the final victim was China’s Sun Jin.
Returned to Action
Wang Chen returned to international action at the GAC Group 2015 ITTF World Tour Czech Open last August but as yet to find the form that saw her become a major force on the world scene two decades ago.
However, of the players on duty in Markham, she is the player with the knowledge and she has valuable Olympic experience. At the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games she reached the quarterfinal stage of the Women’s Singles event, notably beating Hungary’s Krisztina Toth and Korea’s Park Miyoung, before losing to Singapore’s Li Jiawei.
Aiming for Third Appearance
Meanwhile from the host nation in Markham, the major challenger for a place in the Women’s Singles event at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games is 27-year-old Zhang Mo.
She will be attempting to make her third consecutive appearance in the prestigious multi-sport gathering. She played in both Beijing and London.
Standing at no.111 on the current Women’s World Rankings, Zhang Mo is no stranger to Markham; undoubtedly she will be hoping to repeat the performance of last May in the city but not of last August.
In May at the ITTF-North America Cup, she beat Lily Zhang in the final, at the ensuing Pan American Games three months later, she experienced a quarterfinal defeat at the hands Brazil’s Caroline Kumahara, a player who recently booked her Rio place by emerging successful at the 2016 ITTF-Latin American Qualification tournament.
Also present at both tournaments flying the flag of the Maple Leaf was Anqi Luo; at both the 2015 ITTF-North American Cup and the Pan American Games, she departed proceedings at the quarterfinal stage.
At the former she was beaten by Lily Zhang, eventually securing sixth place, at the latter by Brazil’s Gui Lin, like Caroline Kumahara also successful at the 2016 ITTF-Latin American Qualification tournament.
Lu Yi and 16 year old Alicia Cote, the youngest Canadian on duty at the 2015 Pan American Games complete the host nation line up.