Present now approaching five years ago, Liu Shiwen is the one player from the gold medal Chinese women’s team in Rio de Janeiro that appears on the entry list for the forthcoming Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
In the Brazilian capital city, she lined up alongside Ding Ning and Li Xiaoxia; in the Japanese metropolis, at 30 years of age, she is very much the senior player in an outfit of almost three generations, Chen Meng is 27 years old, Sun Yingsha is a mere 20 years of age.
Play commences in the Metropolitan Gymnasium on Saturday 24th July.
Not only is she the only remaining member from the successful exploits in Brazil; she is the only player on duty in Tokyo who possesses the full house of titles at the World Championships.
Now is that her dilemma?
Notably, in Tokyo her name does not appear on the women’s singles entry, in addition to the women’s team competition, she partners Xu Xin in the mixed doubles, very much the perfect pair, a left handed pen-holder in harness with a right handed shake-hands grip colleague.
The introduction of mixed doubles into the Olympic schedule has given the event a new status, the record of Xu Xin and Liu Shiwen, since the announcement was made, suggests they are odds on favourites for the title.
If the event had not gained approval and the schedule was the same as in Rio de Janeiro, whoever the further members of the team may have been named, would we not have witnessed her appearance in the women’s singles?
Each to their own opinion and some will undoubtedly be surprised, but the selection underlines the incredible strength, the remarkable depth and the most meticulous attention to detail.
Most significantly, it emphasizes the importance of the Olympic Games.
Playing in three events in Tokyo, would that prove too strenuous for Liu Shiwen? In Rio de Janeiro, she played played seven matches, three singles and four doubles always partnering Ding Ning. In the singles, every match was in straight games, in the doubles just one game surrendered, that being in opposition to Germany’s Shan Xiaona and Petrissa Solja.
A measured programme, gold medals at an Olympic Games are a most precious commodity, China will take not chances, there is no need to gamble; in Tokyo they will be 1,000 per cent prepared, that fact is why they are favourites for a clean sweep in Tokyo.
Editor: Ian Marshall