(by Steve Hopkins, photo by ITTFWorld)
Chen Meng is currently at the top of the ITTF rankings, and it isn’t close. China’s top player has 11850 points and the next closest player, Japan’s Mima Ito, is nearly 1400 points behind. Chen will be the top seed at the Olympics and she’ll be a solid favorite. According to a feature on Olympics.com (see original here), she first became a known commodity in China when she beat World Championship Guo Yue at age 17 in China’s team trials events for the 2011 World Championships. That same year, she dominated youth titles in singles, doubles, and mixed doubles.
Chen first reached World No. 1 in 2018 and has been the most consistent player for the most dominant country, but this will be her first Olympics. She won both the Women’s World Cup and the ITTF Grand Finals last November, so perhaps she’s on a roll. However, before 2020, it often seems like she missed out at key points in the biggest tournaments and fell short – losing in the Finals or Semifinals (usually to another Chinese player). That makes things interesting as in Singles Japan’s Mima Ito and China’s Sun Yingsha will both have their eyes on the Gold medal as well.
Chen will also anchor a highly favored Chinese team that will feature 3 of the top 4 players in the world – a team so highly favored that in nearly every match they could suffer two upsets and still win in the best 3 of 5 format.
Expect to see Chen Meng in the center podium next month in Tokyo. The real question may not be whether she takes home a gold, but rather how many gold medals she will be able to claim.
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