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Why top Chinese table tennis stars will not go to Houston
Top Chinese stars have decided to withdraw from the Houston World Table Tennis Championships. The team includes Ma Long, Xu Xin, and Liu Shiwen. Fan Zhendong will lead the men’s squad for the championships which will take place in late November 2021.
Ma and Xu are the two biggest losses because they are world-class players with lasting legacies. This is unfortunate for the event because losing top stars is always a big blow to the competitive nature. Since there is only a month before the event takes place, this might leave the organizers in dire straits as well.
The Chinese players are still strong but they have shown some cracks in the armour in the Summer Games in Tokyo. While they still won the majority of the gold medals, it was disappointing when they lost to Japan in the mixed doubles. That was a sudden shift for China since they were coasting for a long while as the top team.
China wants to rejuvenate their lineup
The reasoning behind China’s decision is to refresh their lineup. Ma and Xu, in particular, wanted to step away from the event because they wanted to get their bodies right. They have struggled with health over the past few months which has led to them asking for a chance to recover.
Chinese Table Tennis Association secretary-general Qin Zhijian talked about why this is a huge shift for the country’s table tennis scene.
Qin said, ‘Ma and Xu have decided not to participate in the championships for physical adjustment. The two paddlers are leading figures in the team with strong competition ability. The men's team will face a great challenge in the championships with the absence of Grand Slam winner Ma Long. Looking ahead to the Paris Games in 2024, it is necessary to train young paddlers' ability to withstand pressure and bear responsibility in international events’.
Qin has a good point because the Chinese scene is mostly known for producing stars. They have a good system that strengthens their players from the youth level and turns them into future stars.
It gives a chance to the other Chinese paddlers
Qin also noted that the five paddlers in the WTTC squad have not won the event yet. This gives them the chance to win it and build their confidence. The Houston event will also be a huge factor in deciding the squad for the Paris Games in 2024.
The men are not the only stars who decided to step away because the female stars will also skip the event. Chen Meng, Sun Yingsha, and Wang Manyu have also given similar reasons.
This will be a questionable event for China but you can expect the remaining players will still perform at a higher level.
Words: Cholo Martin