Courtesy of ITTF
Winner of the Women’s Singles title, earlier this year at the GAC Group 2015 ITTF World Tour German Open, when only 14 years and 152 days old; Japan’s Mima Ito set a new record in the youngest ever stakes.
Earlier, in December in partnership with Miu Hirano, the duo had won the Women’s Doubles title at the US$ 1,000,000 GAC Group 2014 ITTF World Tour Grand Finals in Bangkok; again breaking age record.
Both are on duty at the forthcoming QOROS 2015 World Championships which start in Suzhou on Sunday 26th September; furthermore both enjoy exalted seeding positions.
In the Women’s Singles event Mima Ito is the no.13 seed, Miu Hirano is the no.25 seed; together in the Women’s Doubles competition they occupy the no.4 seeded spot.
Such a high status suggests that as a combination they are major challengers for honors and without doubt should they conclude proceedings standing on the top step of the medal podium, in terms of age they will be anointed the “youngest ever”.
On the opening day of play, a day on which neither is required to play, Miu Hirano will be 15 years and 12 days; Mima Ito will be 14 years and 217 days.
If they are to break records, they will have to transcend the achievements of some most worthy names, all with one factor in common; all are from the People’s Republic of China.
On Saturday March 6th when Guo Yue was selected for the final of the Women’s event at the Liebherr 2004 World Championships in Doha, alongside Wang Nan and Zhang Yining, duly beating Zhang Rui to seal the title against Hong Kong, she was 15 years and 233 days old.
Overall Guo Yue is the youngest and according to my calculations, she is the youngest to win the Mixed Doubles title at a World Championships.
At the Volkswagen 2005 World Championships in Shanghai on Wednesday 4th May, she partnered Wang Liqin to claim the top prize. She was 16 years and 294 days old.
The result also meant Wang Liqin had won every title available at a World Championships; that is an achievement that the legendary Deng Yaping never achieved.
However, no-one can match her feat on Sunday April 9th, when at the 1989 World Championships, she won the Women’s Doubles title with Qiao Hong; she was 16 years and 63 days old.
In order to break the Women’s Doubles record of Deng Yaping, Miu Hirano and Mima Ito must win in Suzhou, two years will be too late.
The youngest Women’s Doubles winner, Deng Yaping is also the youngest ever Women’s Singles winner; when she won on Monday 6th May at the 1991 World Championships in Chiba, she was 18 years and 90 days old.
She was just slightly younger than Guo Yue, when she won on Saturday 26th May at the Liebherr 2007 World Championships in Zagreb; on that date Guo Yue was 18 years and 313 days old.
Teenage World champions but seemingly the same scenario does not apply to the men.
On Sunday May 14th when Kong Linghui won the Men’s Singles event at the 1995 World Championships in Tianjin, he was 19 years and 208 days old. In the final he beat the slightly younger Liu Guoliang who was 19 years and 124 days old.
Earlier both had been members of the successful Chinese outfit that won the Men’s Team event but neither played in the final.
Two years when matters closed at the 1997 World Championships in Manchester on Monday May 4th, Kong Linghui was 21 years and 194 days old; Liu Guoliang was 21 years and 135 days old.
Together they won the Men’s Doubles title; while Liu Guoliang secured Mixed Doubles gold with Wu Na.
Maybe in Suzhou
Has there ever been younger? Will there be a younger? Maybe in Suzhou?
On Sunday April 26th, Fan Zhendong, fourth seed in the Men’s Singles event, will be 18 years and 94 days old.
Visit ITTF.com for more information on the upcoming 2015 World Table Tennis Championships.