World No. 1 Chen Meng ready to make Olympic debut

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NANYANG – World No. 1 women’s singles paddler Chen Meng feels relieved after being named in China’s table tennis Olympic squad for the first time.

“That’s a weight off my mind,” the 27-year-old told a post-match mixed zone on Wednesday (May 26) at the Chinese table tennis Olympic simulation tournament.

“I can now focus on preparations for my first Olympic Games and make some specific plan after knowing that I will go play Tokyo 2020,” said Chen, who beat Sun Mingyang 12-10, 11-6, 11-8, 11-6 in her first match here to make the quarter-finals.

Ten days ago, the mighty Chinese team announced their roster for the upcoming Tokyo Games, with Olympic debutant Chen Meng spearheading China’s challenge in the women’s singles.

Her 20-year-old teammate Sun Yingsha, ranked third in the world, is the only other player to represent China in the women’s singles, while reigning world champion Liu Shiwen joins them in the team event.

A widely accepted talent from a young age, Chen Meng made her name known to the public over 10 years ago when she upset world champion Guo Yue in the Chinese team’s “ to Rotterdam” world championships trial.

The 2011 youth world championships’ “Grand Slam” winner of the women’s team, women’s singles, women’s doubles, and mixed doubles titles then began to shine on the international stage by denying Liu a China Open crown in 2012.

In the star-studded Chinese team, however, Chen was not admitted as the first-choice player until she took over the No. 1 ranking for the first time in January 2018 and claimed the women’s World Cup in 2020.

“The pressure is always there,” she said, talking about the feeling of being named in the Olympic roster. “But I’ve also been ready, as always.

“I like my status today when I was a little bit nervous to kick off the simulation tournament while knowing that I was able to adjust quickly.

“It must be like this when I stand on the Olympic competition floor. I could not be totally relaxed but (should be) playing better and better as the Games go on.

“My goal is to vie for a win, no matter if it’s at the Olympic Games or trials like this, or in singles or team events.”

The Tokyo Olympic Games table tennis competitions are set to take place from July 24 to Aug 6 in the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium.

China has collected 28 out of 32 gold medals on offer since the sport made it debut at the Olympics in 1988.

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