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Maehara talks about how the Japanese system helped its players
Japan’s table tennis scene has improved gradually over the past two decades. Japanese Table Table Tennis Association (JTTA) vice president Masahiro Maehara talked about how it has helped the players reach another level.
In the Summer Games in Tokyo earlier this year, Japan’s Mima Ito and Jun Mizutani managed to win the gold medal in the Mixed Doubles tournament. This was a watershed moment for Japan because they pulled off a huge upset victory against table tennis powerhouse, China. This was a fairytale ending for Japan because this was two decades in the making.
The JTTA system has taken a holistic approach over the years by helping in the players’ growth. This training model was championed by Maehara over the past two decades. It’s not a surprise that 21-year-old Ito is the poster child of this system since she grew up with all of the lessons.
The players are not the only ones who were assisted by the JTTA because the coaches have also improved over the years. They also trained in other countries so they can learn more tactics and ways to help the players improve their styles. That is a great approach to the sport and it’s a huge reason why Japan has become a table tennis powerhouse.
Table tennis has been centred on China’s success but the Mixed Doubles win in Tokyo was a sign that they are slightly losing their grip. Japan has caught up to China largely due to the coaches’ approach to helping the players. This was heavily influenced by Maehara and the JTTA and the partnership between all parties have all helped the scene grow.
Maehara talked about the strengths of the system. He said, ‘In order to respect the fact that players and coaches are usually trained together in their own teams, we set up a personal coach system. This allowed the coaches to experience many international tournaments and improve their coaching skills’.
You can expect the JTTA will help the system grow even more in the future. China is not the only powerhouse in the sport anymore because Ito and the rest of the Japanese players will continue to improve.
Words: Cholo Martin