Kasumi Ishikawa, Japan’s consistent performer
The success achieved by Miu Hirano in 2016 in Philadelphia stands out from the crowd; the only occasion when in the prestigious Women’s World Cup the top step of the podium has not been won by a player representing the People’s Republic of China.
However, of those from Japan who, over the years, have proved the most consistent, the honour belongs to Kasumi Ishikawa.
Currently listed at no.9 on the world rankings, the now 27-year-old is on duty at the forthcoming Dishang 2020 Women’s World Cup; play starts in the Chinese city of Weihai on Sunday 8th November.
A debut in the 2011 in Singapore, in Weihai, Kasumi Ishikawa will be making her eighth appearance, thus matching the number of her now retired colleague, Ai Fukuhara who first appeared in 2005 in Guangzhou and bid farewell a decade later in Sendai.
Notably, in 2005 Ai Fukuhara secured third position; it was an achievement she was never able to match. Later, in 2006 in Urumqi, 2010 in Kuala Lumpur and 2013 in Kobe as well as 2015 in Sendai she departed proceedings in the last eight.
Overall, five quarter-final appearances for Ai Fukuhara; it is the same for Kasumi Ishikawa but on three occasions, she has advanced further. In 2014 in Linz, she concluded matters in third place, one year later she was the runner up in Sendai. She finished in fourth spot in 2018 in Chengdu, whilst in 2013 in Kobe and 2019 also in Chengdu she was a quarter-finalist.
Likewise, although Miu Hirano at 20-years-old has time on her side, she has three quarter-final visits, progressing twice. In addition to 2016, she achieved fourth place one year later in Markham and a last eight finish in 2018 in Chengdu.
The ratio for Japanese players of reaching the last eight belongs to Miu Hirano but that must be tempered by the fact that in 2016 there were no Chinese on duty and no Kasumi Ishikawa. However, that fact should not detract from what was a quite incredible performance by the then 16 year old.
Gold, silver and bronze; Japan has the full collection but Ai Fukuhara, Miu Hirano and Kasumi Ishikawa are Japan’s only medal winners at a Women’s World Cup.
Furthermore, they are the only semi-finalists from the Land of the Rising Sun. Sayaka Hirano reached the last eight in 2014 in Linz as did Mima Ito in 2016 in Philadelphia; Aya Umemura competed in 2003 in Hong Kong but did not advance beyond the group phase.
Now can Kasumi Ishikawa advance beyond the quarter-finals? If so there might be one player she wishes to avoid, when reaching the last eight and losing – 2013 in Kobe, 2019 in Chengdu – it has always been to the same player who ended semi-final hopes – Singapore’s Feng Tianwei.
It is not beyond the realms of possibility they could meet in that round in Weihai!
Editor: Ian Marshall