Wang Chuqin – the journey to Olympic gold
Born on Thursday 11th May 2000, Wang Chuqin is from Jilin, located in north east of China, an area that is no stranger to realizing players of high pedigree. Wang Hao, the 2009 World champion and three times men’s singles silver medallist at the Olympic Games, is from the province.
“I started to play when I was a child, seven years old, I was not fit, my parents wanted me to take some exercise”, explained Wang Chuqin. “A friend of my father was a coach at a local club.”
Ability was evident, in 2014 he joined the national team; only 14 years old he was on duty at the Wisdom World Junior Championships in Shanghai, a quarter-final boys’ singles exit at the hands of colleague Liu Dingshuo being the outcome. One year later in 2015 when the tournament was staged in La Roche-sur-Yon and in 2017 in Riva del Garda, he departed proceedings one round later, losing again to a compatriot, on both occasions to Xu Fei.
The world junior title proved elusive but undoubtedly with an eye on Buenos Aires, he was selected for Liebherr 2018 World Team Championships in Halmstad; he played just match, that being in the opening fixture against Russia when beating Vildan Gadiev in straight games.
Just one match but although the Youth Olympic Games has its own special aura, when Wang Chuqin arrived in the Argentine capital city of Buenos Aires, he was no stranger to the big occasion. Only this time, with each National Olympic Committee permitted to field a maximum one boy and one girl, the pressure was firmly on his shoulders.
The men’s singles to start proceedings, safely through to the main draw, in the opening round he faced Vladimir Sidorenko, winner of the cadet boys’ singles title at the European Youth Championships in both 2016 and 2017. The Russian posed problems.
“I was down two-nil; I was thinking a lot, I thought if I lost the match, I would retire from the sport”, reflected Wang Chuqin. “I relaxed and won the match; it was like claiming my life back!”
A scare, in a less dramatic manner, he beat Sweden’s Truls Moregard and Kanak Jha of the United States to reach the final where he recovered from an opening game deficit to overcome Japan’s Tomokazu Harimoto and reserve the top step of the podium.
“The night before the singles final, I didn’t sleep well, I went to talk to my coach, Chen Zhenjiang, who helped me and guided me; after the chat, I felt more relaxed with less pressure”, sighed Wang Chuqin. “After winning the final, it was like a dream; for me, it was a match I could not afford to lose. Thinking about it now, I can still feel the thrill of the occasion.”
Gold and there was more to follow in Buenos Aires, he partnered Sun Yingsha to mixed team success in a two-one win in opposition to Tomokazu Harimoto and Miu Hirano; a contest in which Wang Chuqin was the player to experience the defeat. He lost to his Japanese contemporary.
“Tomokazu changed some of his tactics and strategies that were not within my expectation, I wasn’t able to handle and adapt to the changes, I didn’t play well”, said Wang Chuqin after the reverse.
A defeat but two gold medals, a most precious reward.
Editor: Ian Marshall