As the 2018 Korea Open wraps up, China walked away with 2 champions and 4 second places. At the same time, the delegation announces the 2018 Asian Games squad. The men’s team consist of Fan Zhendong, Lin Gaoyuan, Wang Chuqin, Liang Jingkun and Xue Fei. Whereas the women;s team will be represented by Zhu Yuling, Chen Meng, Wang Manyu, Chen Xingtong and Sun Yingsha. Fan Zhendong and Lin Gaoyuan will also take part in the men’s singles. Chen Meng and Wang Manyu will play the women’s singles. Lin Gaoyuan / Wang Manyu and Wang Chuqin / Sun Yingsha will play in the mixed doubles. The CTTA notice stated that such squad is deliberately selected for a better preparation of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. it is a strategic selection so as to build up our young generation and improve our competitiveness. The selection is based on the 2018 CTTA ranking, athletes’ international competition results in 2017-2018, the winning percentage against foreign players, results at the 2017 Junior World Championships and 2018 Youth Olympic selection criteria. Each the men’s and women’s team will be represented by 5 athletes. The key feature of the 2018 Asian Games lineup is youth. None of them has ever won an Olympic champion. The Chinese has dominated the past Asian Games. There have been 77 Asian Games gold medals produced in table tennis event since 1974. The Chinese won over 60 of them Wang Nan took part in women’s team, singles, doubles and mixed doubles, a total of 4 events in 1998. She won champion in all the events and become the first female Chinese players to win 4 champions at the Asian Games. The Chinese did not win the women’s singles champion in 1994. The former Chinese player He Zhili, moved to Japan and represented Japan as Koyama Chire. She defeated Chen Jing, Qiao Hong and Deng Yaping to walk away with the women’s singles title. This is the only women’s singles title that the Chinese have lost since they took part in the Asian Games. The Chinese won all champions but mixed doubles at the last Asian Games. It was about the strongest squad the Chinese could have sent in 2014. The men’s team was led by Zhang Jike and Ma Long and Ding Ning for the women side. Although the Asian Games is not at the same level as the Olympics, WTTC and World Cup, most of the toughest opponents in the table tennis event are from Asia. Japan, Korea and DPRK will be challenging the Chinese. How are they going to defend the titles in Jakarta? Will there be surprises from the young teams? Today’s topic: How will they win without Olympic champions? Thank you for tuning in. Our show aired every Mondays and Fridays. Today’s topic: How will they win without Olympic champions? We are happy to have our guests, our contracted commentator Liang Yan. Welcome And our table tennis correspondent Li Wujun. Speaking about winning, let’s have a look at the squad. We reported the news once the CTTA announced the squad for the 2018 Asian Games. I was a bit surprise when I first heard of the lineup. It may be the first time an Asian Games squad without Olympic champion. What’s your thought, Li Wujun? Is it surprising? I think it is within my prediction. As we know the Chinese National Team has earned national pride at the past Asian Games. Over 60 gold medals. And history has told us the singles champion at the Asian Games would be qualified to represent China at the Olympics. Like Ma Long, Deng Yaping, Wang Nan, Zhang Yining, Li Xiaoxia They became grand-slam winner not long after they had won the Asian Games singles champion. Therefore, the Asian Games carry a mission of passing the torch on the young generation. Of the 10 athletes, only 3 participated at the 2014 Asian Games. The remaining 7 athletes are newcomers at the Asian Games. I think this is an opportunity for building up our young athletes. At the same time, our goal will be the same. It has to be winning the champion. Thus, training the young generation and winning the titles are equally important. I believe the crowd anticipate the team to win the titles. As you mentioned, the Asian Games is a litmus test for the Olympic Games. Japan have announced their squad long ago. We announced it in late July. Why did they make such an early announcement? It is something interesting. Perhaps, they made such decision after considering the low score awarded at the Asian Games. The points? You are right. ITTF implements a new ranking system this year. Meanwhile the Asian Games (singles champion) is awarded 1050 points. Meaning that the singles champion at the Asian Games will be awarded 1050 points only. Whereas a singles champion at a World Tour will be awarded 1800 points. As for singles champion at a World Tour Platinum received 2250 points. Since everyone would like to move up the rankings, the higher the world rankings one has, the bigger the advantage one has in the draw of the Tokyo Olympics. This might be the reason for Japan sending their second-string option to Jakarta. Their top 6 players will not be competing at the Asian Games. This might be their reason. A strategic arrangement for a better preparation for the Tokyo Olympics. As far as I know, the CNT performance at the Asian Games is not as good as that at the Olympics. We had lost gold medals at the Asian Games So true. At 1986 Asian Games in Seoul, 1998 Asian Games in Bangkok, 1994 Asian Games in Hiroshima, we missed out a few gold medals. As we know Japan, Korea and China are strong contenders at the Games, especially in the women’s singles event. So any thoughts on the upcoming Asian Games? I think we are here discussing this topic has more or less to do with the recent Korea Open. When we are still studying the emergence of a young Japanese player, Harimoto Tomokazu here comes Jang Woojin. We start to feel a sense of tension as the two rising stars show their potential. We do not need to treat the Asian Games as an exceptionally important tournament. The goal is to win the champion but just like the team’s decision, it’s to train (somehow) young players. Can we consider Fan Zhendong as ‘young’ players? So do Zhu Yuling, Chen Meng and Wang Manyu, they have achieved quite a lot of good results in the international scene. They are capable of being the top players in the world. Fan Zhendong is out of the league (too good). He has everything but a convincing results at the Olympics. It is understandable that the Chinese put their young players to the test at the Asian Games. The team has the depth and the lineup is reasonable. Considering China has been a strong team in table tennis world since 1959 when Rong Guotuan won the first men’s singles World champion for China. The team has its own strategy and pace to prepare different tournaments. As you mentioned these athletes are capable of challenging the gold and all they need is an opportunity, the Asian Games is approaching and it’s a great chance for them but you have also mentioned the challenges from Japan, and perhaps a Unified Korea team, how are they going to prepare for the Games? Is the pressure building up? I believe the team won’t take a particular continental competition, World Tour exceptionally serious. They treat these competitions as a chance to build up the team. The more important tournaments include the Olympics and WTTC. The rise of Harimoto Tomokazu and Jang Woojin is not scary at all. I would like to reiterate the team is not afraid of the rise of a particular athlete. The true threat is a team of competitive athletes, like the Swedes back in the days. Like Jan Ove Waldner, Mikael Appelgren, Erik Lindh, Jorgen Persson, a team with 4 or even 5 athletes who are capable of defeating us. They were strong as a team. I don’t think there is a team that can challenge us in the team event at this point. Well, but we have to keep an eye on Japan. Kasumi Ishikawa, MIu Hirano, Ito Mima, the three is now a small but strong team. If they significantly improve in the coming 2-3 years, it would be a threat to the Chinese. Indeed, the Asian Games is not scary. It’s a chance to test our young athletes. You’ve mentioned the Korea Open. Athletes on the Asian Games squad competed in that tournament. The following video sums up their performances at the Korea Open. The 2018 Korea Open has come to an end. The Chinese were the top 2 finishers in the women’s singles and doubles. The men’s singles and doubles champion belong to the Koreans. The KOR-PRK pair walked away with the mixed doubles title. The women’s singles champion was battled out between Zhu Yuling and Chen Meng. Chen Meng won over Ding Ning and Liu Shiwen in the quarterfinals and semifinals respectively. However she lost 1-4 to Zhu Yuling in the finals. I am satisfied with my overall performance. There is room for improvement though. I will work on them in the upcoming training. We know each other very well. Win or lose, either way is normal. I will review this match and thank you for your support! The Chinese did not have too many problems in the women’s doubles finals as its an all-Chinese final. Ding Ning / Chen Meng came first and Zhu Yuling / Wang Manyu settled for second. This is our first collaborate in women’s doubles in international competition. We have room for improvement. I believe a good communication is the key of this competition too. Lin Gaoyuan and Liang Jingkun played against each other in the semifinals. Liang Jingkun made to the finals. However Jang Woojin was holding Liang Jingkun back in the finals. As a result, Liang Jingkun lost 0-4. In the men’s doubles finals, Jang Woojin and Lim Jonghoon won 3-1 over the Hong Kong duo Wong Chun Ting and Ho Kwan Kit. Whereas in the mixed doubles finals, the Chinese pair, Wang Chuqin and Sun YIngsha lost 1-3 to Jang Woojin and Cha Hyo Sim. Jang Woojin walked away with 3 ogld medals at the Korea Open. The Korea Open has ended. The highlights of the tournament is Jang Woojin winning 3 champions. The Chinese won 2 champions but some netizens are not satisfied with the results. After all the Korean athletes have won more gold medals than the Chinese. What are your comments on the Chinese performance at the Korea Open? I have followed the tournament closely. The Chinese women’s team had sent their top players to the event. Thus, the women won women’s singles and women’s doubles champion and runner-up as expected. It was quite a surprise that Jang Woojin won 3 titles (MS, MD, XD). Jang Woojin’s performance, especially at the finals, was beyond our imagination. Some netizens said he played at his ‘peak’ form. What they meant his performance is wild and mind-blowing. Winning 4-0 over Liang Jingkun, is indeed a shocking result. His tactic is brutal but very effective. No wonder Jang Woojin was very excited after the victory. I also observed that coach Kim Taek Soo had a big smile on his face. Jang Woojin’s performance at the Korea Open may be a warning to the CNT as the team is preparing for the Asian Games. Jang Woojin and Harimoto Tomokazu stood out at the World Tour. After a series of World Tours, I believe the Chinese will keep study Jang Woojin, Lee Sangsu, Chuang Chih Yuan and other competitive players closely to better prepare for the Game. I am confident that the team will achieve a satisfying result at the Asian Games. I think the Chinese team is still very competitive. Whatever the public opinions which are not professional, the Chinese team has dominated for 60 years. The team know its way out. While any public opinions are empty talk. I am not going to talk about how could they improve from this. Let’s wait and see their adjustments. If they cannot make improvements, it implies they have no clues. If they cannot solve the problems themselves, no one is capable of solving them. So let’s see how the Chinese learn from it. I have trust in the team. I understand that it happens one or two foreign players stand out in a particular event. Why don’t you consider their past records of losing? For example, Harimoto Tomokazu lost 0-4 to Liang Jingkun. Every athlete has his good days and bad days but the good days could hardly sustain for 2-3 years. What really matters is the ability to handle major competitions. And not to panic at major competitions. Athletes’ performances tend to be compromised at major competition because of nerves. Whereas in competition like the Korea Open, where Jang Woojin enjoyed a home advantage could easily outperform. Jang Woojin and Harimoto Tomokazu have nothing to lose. They can go all out. However, when they go through more major competitions, they might pick up more pressure. Their performance might be yet to their best because of pressure. That’s the time when experience steps in and an integrated ability is more important. You’re talking about standing out at major competitions. There aren’t undefeated champions. The loss may help them improve and learn from the experience. However, it is true that the Japanese and Korean players have made significant progress. Any thoughts on the players and the unified Korean pair in the mixed doubles? They might be a threat to the Chinese in the mixed doubles event at the Asian Games. Li Wujun Indeed we see the emergence of Harimoto Tomokazu and Jang Woojin, after all they had an impressive performance at the last 2 World Tour. However, the Chinese give me the impression that the better their opponents are, the stronger the Chinese will bounce back. Indeed. Harimoto Tomokazu was extraordinary at the Japan Open but Liang Jingkun managed to win 4-0 in Korea. The Chinese are strong as a collective. Their ability to study and research on foreign players are second to none. Secondly, you ask about the mixed doubles from the unified Korean team. We do not have any confirmation about the Unified Korean team at the 2018 Asian Games. Yet we cannot rule out the possibilities of having a Unified Korean team at the last minute. As this had happened at the 2018 WTTC in Sweden Considering the past Asian Games, China versus Japan is the more common scene. If the Unified Korean team is formed, I believe a combat between China and the Unified Korean team will be the biggest highlight of the Games. As far as we know, ITTF has approved the Unified Korean Team. Our table tennis lovers are very concern about CNT. They leave us comments once the lineup was announced. Let’s see what they have written. Talking about the goal at the Asian Games, the netizen said a clean sweep without a doubt. Some think picture is better than word (saying: Go Fan Zhendong!) Many are shocked by the lineup. Some said: OMG! A squad without Ma Long and Xu Xin. I hope for an interesting outcome since Ma Long and Ding Ning will not be there. It is a bit surprising but winning the champion is our ultimate goal. One said it is not easy to pick a team to represent China. The team is said to be holding back when they pick the young ones while taking away opportunities from the young ones when they decided to put up an experienced squad. On the other hand, some understand the team’s decision. There are times to put the young ones to the test as the veterans can’t play forever. If we do not train our young players at the Asian Games, what are we going to do at the Olympics? Lin Gaoyuan and Wang Manyu will be competing in 3 events. Some think Lin Gaoyuan and Wang Manyu are the young prospects of the team. Congratulations to Lin Gaoyuan for competing in 3 events. Entries of 3 events can be an opportunity as well as a challenge. The women’s squad has also led to vigorous discussion. Zhu Yuling will not be playing in the women’s singles. I’ve never thought of Zhu Yuling sitting out the women’s singles. Chen Meng and Wang Manyu in the women’s singles? It must be a battle of the internal positioning. It’s time to prove themselves. Some said the team has no choice but to give the young ones opportunities. Deng Yaping won 2 Olympic gold medal at Lin Gaoyuan’s age. Lin Gaoyuan is a young player. Anyway, a young squad makes the upcoming Asian Games interesting. Some believe this is the Chinese team in the coming 10 years. It is likely to be the Chinese team in the future. A team without the big names! Keep going, the next generation of the Chinese table tennis team. There are always up-and-coming stars. This is the moment. Let’s see who make their names out there. Our table tennis fans support the team but they also expect a good result from them. What should CNT do to improve as the Asian Games and Olympic Games is approaching? We seldom do a thorough preview before the Asian Games. In the past, we all think table tennis is the national sport and the team should win all the titles. It happens that the rise of Harimoto Tomokazu, Jang Woojin, Miu Hirano and Ito Mima, which has changed the competition field. This is the time for the team to make a change. The team has made changes before. The last 2 change happened in the time when the Chinese dominated. They reviewed every shortcomings even though they took home every possible Olympic gold medals. This time when they seek for changes, it happens some foreign players stand out and challenge the Chinese. These threats may have affected the team’s original plan. Some may not used to the change. Mostly the table tennis community. Despite the changes, there are 2 things the team has to up hold with. First, the classics. What do you mean by classics? The team has dominated for about 60 years. There must be a way to success. The way, the system to success is what I mean classics. Second is to understand the norm. The system sets the norm. If you destroy the system, the norm will be violated as well. Let’s say you can renovate your house but you cannot pull down the structural wall. If you tear down the structural wall, your house will collapse. The structure will change. The team has experienced unstable times. This is more fatal than lacking time to study their opponents or getting behind the trend. The will of the people is crucial. I hope the team can get rid of the interruptions. And get back on track, study their opponents and face the upcoming competitions with a calm mind. Find their very moment of a beginner’s mind. There are multiple changes. The upcoming Asian Games has bring some new changes. It consist of 5 events (MT, WT, MS, WS, XD), the same as the Olympics. This is the first time the Asian Games has reduced the number of events in table tennis since 40 years. The reduction of the events give me an impression that the Asian Games used to be very welcomed but it’s not the case now. There were 7 events in table tennis but it has reduced to 5. It follows the Olympics. That’s one of the perspectives.