Liu is not included in China's Tokyo Games singles lineup
Former world champion Liu Shiwen was not included in the six-woman lineup in China’s Games run in the singles division. She is only included in the doubles squad which is surprising given that she’s ranked seventh and was one of the leaders in the Rio Games.
As the headliner for the women, it is obvious that world number one Chen Meng was the country's first choice. She is the star player that every team needs because she raises their ceiling for success. This is the same with Sun Yingsha, who can be argued is on the same level as Chen.
On the other hand, reigning Olympic champion Ma Long headlines the men’s lineup with world number one Fan Zhendong with him. It is not a surprise that they’re in the lineup given that they’re the two best players that China has. Liu’s exclusion from the women’s squad is the only move that people are asking questions about as she is one of their best players.
China is historically strong
Out of 32 table tennis gold medals that have been given since the 1988 Games, China has won 28 of them. It is not a surprise that they have kept up their success as table tennis is in the mix for the country’s best sport. They are strong in other sports but table tennis is a sport that is beloved in the country.
Most of the elite players in the world rankings are all from China. That is a sign that this country is a powerhouse when it comes to table tennis but they need to make sure that they’re not complacent against other countries.
The main threat to their success will be Japan. Their star player is Mima Ito which means that the women’s game will be the tougher matchup. It is a shame that Liu is not going to play against her in singles because she has been one of the best matchups in recent years. Ito will be a strong player who will be a threat but you can trust players like Chen and Sun to step up.
Is Liu a big snub?
When talking about the reason behind the lineups, Chinese Table Tennis Association president Liu Guoliang said, ‘There are too many unsure things and challenges and we need a squad full of experience and confidence, adding to top-class individual skills’.
It is stunning that Liu Shiwen is not a part of the lineup because she is one of their best representatives. It also helps that her experience is valuable enough to compete with the other stars around the world. Hopefully, she can perform at the highest level in the doubles division so that she can still win a gold medal.
The postponed Games will take place from the 23rd of July to the 8th of August in Japan’s capital, Tokyo.
Words: Cholo MartinImage: PA