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Olympic Games: Lin Yun-Ju, a chance to realise potential

Monday 12 July

A young man who possesses a high level of skill, Lin Yu-Ju makes his debut in the Olympic Games; furthermore, for a first appearance, he faces a most exacting challenge.

He competes in the men’s singles, the mixed doubles in harness with Cheng I-Ching and in the men’s team alongside Chen Chien-An and Chuang Chih-Yuan.

Play in the men’s singles and mixed doubles commences on Saturday 24th July, the men’s team event on Sunday 1st August.

Lin Yun-Ju, who will celebrate his 20th birthday one week prior to the commencement of proceedings in the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium, he was born on Friday 17th August 2001, is a delight to watch.

Just as Lewis Hamilton was born to drive a racing car, Usain Bolt perfect for running the 100 metres or Shane Warne for bowling a cricket ball, so Lin Yun-Ju is made for table tennis.

He belongs to the special group of talented left handers with golden hands, for Lin Yun-Ju, in particular, read China’s Chen Qi. He was the architect in the partnership with Ma Lin that secured men’s doubles gold at the Athens 2004 Olympic Games.

Accepted Chen Qi won six ITTF World Tour men’s singles titles, notably at the final hurdle, four when facing Wang Liqin, one against Ma Long, the other in opposition to Li Ping but did we not expect more?

He never won a men’s singles title at a world title event or at the ITTF World Tour Grand Finals; the nearest being when beaten in the final of the Men’s World Cup by Vladimir Samsonov of Belarus in 2009 in Moscow.

Now with Tokyo 2020 looming, is Lin Yun-Ju in the same situation as Chen Qi?

In 2019, Lin Yun-Ju won the T2 Diamond in Johor Bahru, recording wins against Fan Zhendong and Ma Long. Later in the year again he repeated the success against Ma Long at the Chengdu Airlines Men’s World Cup.  

The performances underline the level at which Lin Yun-Ju can perform.

Conversely, he has just one ITTF World Tour men’s singles title to his name but a success that again reflects the level at which he can play. In 2019 he won in Olomouc beating Germany’s Dimitrij Ovtcharov in the final.

Did we not expect more at the Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympic Games, fourth place in the men’s singles event was his lot; he experienced a semi-final defeat at the hands of Japan’s Tomokazu Harimoto before then losing the bronze medal contest when opposing Kana Jha of the United States. Soon after, there was consolation, he partnered Su Pei-Ling to mixed team bronze.

Later, at the Liebherr 2019 World Championships in Budapest he did not meet expectations. He experienced a second round exit at the hands of Panagiotis Gionis of Greece. The fact he was only 17 years old at the time must be considered.

Now with Tokyo in mind is the greatest motivational source for Lin Yun-Ju the defeats in Buenos Aires and Budapest? Add his undoubted talent and in Japan’s capital city, can he realise his unquestioned potential, can he answer the question that in the really big event he can shine?

Moreover, can he prove China’s nemesis?

Editor: Ian Marshall

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