It was a winning Wednesday for China on Day 4 of the 2018 World Junior Championships, as they secured the competition’s first titles on offer here in Bendigo, Australia.
Defending their titles in both Girls’ and Boys’ Teams categories, China never seriously looked like surrendering them, as they put in two dominant displays over their combative Japanese opponents.
Over the course of the evening, they lost just one match between them and were always able to raise the bar when it mattered most.
SHI Xunyao proved to be the star performer for the Girls, winning both of her matches 3-0, while QIAN Tianyi set the tone with a hard-fought opening match victory.
Meanwhile, China’s Boys’ Team enjoyed a more straightforward passage to the crown, winning in consecutive matches: Yu Heyi, Xu Yingbin and XIANG Peng all emerging victorious from their respective duels.
JAPAN SO CLOSE, YET SO FAR
Having impressed in their semi-final wins over Russia (Girls) and Chinese Taipei (Boys) respectively, hopes were high in the Japanese camp of reclaiming the titles they had lifted in the 2016 World Junior Championships.
Two matches down in the Girls’ final, Miyuu KIHARA handed her team a lifeline, beating HUANG Fanzhen 3-2, but the sparks were only temporary as SHI Xunyao extinguished any hopes of a turnaround in the next match, defeating Miyu NAGASAKI.
In the Boys’ final, Japan put up a fight far more often than the scoreline would suggest, as individual games regularly went down to the wire, epitomised by the final match in which Shunsuke TOGAMI fell 10-12, 9-11, 9-11 to XIANG Peng.
Indeed, the latter had to do something special in order to cross the line and double China’s glory on the day.
MEET THE ANIMALS!
Given the high levels of intensity and impressive technical ability on show in Bendigo, it is often easy to forget that this is a Junior event.
However, there was no hiding the players’ youthful exuberance when they were treated to a special surprise, organised by the City of Greater Bendigo and ITTF Oceania.
Koalas, kangaroos, crocodiles, kookaburras, fruit bats, owls and many more species unique to these parts of the world came out to greet the athletes between sessions.