Youth Olympics Buenos Aires Update
(by Steve Hopkins/Photo by ITTF)
The 3rd Youth Olympic Games is underway in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The event mirrors the Summer Olympics covering a wide range of sports as well as cultural and educational events. The games will run from October 6 to 18 and have brought athletes aged fifteen to eighteen from more than 200 countries.
Men’s and Women’s singles in table tennis began with group play on October 7. The top 16 group finishers then advanced to single elimination.
On the Men’s side, the top three seeds are all names that are well known: Tomokazu Harimoto, Kanak Jha, and Truls Moregard have all made their respective national teams (Japan, USA, Sweden) and have been heralded with hopes to be the next great champion from those countries. While these three are seeds 1, 2, and 3 among juniors, there is some real distance between them in the ITTF Men’s World Rankings. Harimoto, in fact, has broken into the top 10 in the World Rankings and is now Japan’s top male player. Kanak Jha has been the top American in the World Rankings for well over a year and entered this tournament as World No. 67. Truls Moregard’s World Ranking is 173.
Harimoto breezed through group play with 4-0 wins over Australia’s Gould, and over Brazil’s Teodoro. Kanak Jha advanced with wins over Austria’s Kolodziejczyk (4-0), over Chile’s Burgos (4-2), and over Philippine’s Nayre (4-0). Truls Moregard also advanced with relative easy with wins over Italy’s Mutti (4-1) and over Argentina’s Bentancor (4-1).
Harimoto then moved through his half of the draw with a round of 16 victory over India’s Thakkar (4-1), and a quarterfinal win over Romania’s Pleta (4-2). Similarly, Jha logged 4-1 victories over his two opponents: defeating Brazil’s Teodoro in the round of 16 and then defeating Singapore’s Pang in the quarterfinal. Truls Morgard did not fare as well – defeating Egypt’s Abdel-Aziz (4-2) in the round of 16 but then falling to China’s Wang by a 4-1 score in the quarterfinals. Chuqin Wang was the 6th seed by ranking, but has had a dominant performance in the tournament thus far.
The semifinals are set for Wednesday. The Men’s semifinals will feature top seeded Tomakazu Harimoto of Japan versus the fourth seeded Yun-Ju Lin of Taipei, and Chuqin Wang of China versus second seeded Kanak Jha of the USA.
In the women’s event, World No. 9 Miu Hirano of Japan entered as the top seed. China’s Sun Yinsha, Taipei’s Su Pei-Ling, and Puerto Rico’s Adriana Diaz were seeds two through four. Amy Wang, representing the USA, was seeded 9th.
Like the men’s event, the top two women have advanced to the semifinal without trouble.
In the groups USA’s Amy Wang defeated Korea’s Choi (4-0) and lost to Slovakia’s Kukulkova (4-3). She advanced and defeated Singapore’s Goi (4-1) in the round of 16 before ultimately losing to Romania’s Dragoman in the quarterfinals.
Adriana Diaz had three quick matches in group play, logging a 4-1 victory over Italy’s Laurenti, a 4-0 win over Germany’s Schreiner, and then winning 4-1 over Malaysia’s Chang. However, Diaz then lost to Azerbaijan’s Ning 4-1 in the Round of 16.
The semifinal is scheduled for Wednesday. Japan’s Miu Hirano will face Romania’s Andreea Dragoman and India’s Ashana Girish Kamath will face Yingsha Sun of China.