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Olympic Games: Laying the past to rest, task for generation team

Wednesday 09 June

Life in the men’s team event at an Olympic Games has not proved the most fruitful for Chinese Taipei, quite simply they have never been in contention for a medal, despite the pedigree of their players.

Now, at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, the team events due to start on Sunday 1st August could that be about to change.

They field the generation team; Chuang Chih-Yuan is 40 years old; when play starts in the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium, Chen Chien-An will be 30 years of age; nine days after the curtain closes Tuesday 17th August, Lin Yun-Ju will celebrate his 20th birthday.

At the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, on the first occasion when the team events were staged, Chuang Chih-Yuan lined up alongside the pen-holders Chiang Peng-Lung and Chang Yen-Shu. Second place in the initial phase group was the outcome.

They recorded a 3-1 win against Brazil (Hugo Hoyama, Thiago Monteiro, Gustavo Tsuboi), before securing a 3-2 success in opposition to Sweden (Jens Lundqvist, Jörgen Persson, Pär Gerell). The results set up a semi-final determining contest against Korea Republic (Ryu Seungmin, Oh Sangeun, Yoon Jaeyoung).

Only teams finishing in first place in each of the four groups progressed to the last four; Chinese Taipei experienced a 3-1 defeat.

Four years later in London, Chinese Taipei was absent, they did not qualify for the men’s team event. In 2016 they returned in Rio de Janeiro. Chen Chien-An and Chiang Hung-Chieh joined forces with Chuang Chih-Yuan, a 3-1 first round defeat was experienced when opposing eventual bronze medallists Germany (Timo Boll, Dimitrij Ovtcharov, Bastian Steger)

The one Chinese Taipei ray of hope in that contest was the doubles success recorded by Chen Chien-An and Chiang Hung-Chieh against Timo Boll and Bastian Steger (9-11, 9-11, 14-12, 12-10, 11-7).

Now in Tokyo, doubles first on the agenda, a good start could make all the difference; in recent years, Lin Yun-Ju has been the man in form, so surely he is likely to be named for the potential singles matches.

Thus Chen Chien-An and Chuang Chih-Yuan appear the likely doubles pairing; but if any partnership defies logic it is that combination.

Crowned world champions in 2013 in Paris but never, despite trying time and time again; as a pair they have never reached an ITTF World Tour men’s doubles final!

Editor: Ian Marshall

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