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Portent for future

Monday 26 April

Brazil’s Biriba caused a major upset by beating Rong Guotan, the defending men’s singles champion; Qiu Zhonghui became the first ever player from China to win the win the women’s singles title at a World Championships, arguably they were the headline makers in 1961 in Beijing.


Equally it was pertinent that China hosted the event for the first team in its history.


In 2021, when we meet later in the year in the United States in the city of Houston, China stands odds on to claim the majority of titles at the World Championships. In every event, whatever the seeding might read, they are the favourites; in fact, as at the most recent gathering in 2019 in Budapest, they are the favourites complete the full house.


Now 60 years ago that was not the situation, but it was tournament that started the legacy of Chinese eminence. It was a changing of the guard.


At the 1959 World Championships in Dortmund Japan had won six of the seven titles on offer. The only title to elude their grasp being the men’s singles event won by China’s Rong Guotan; when play started in two years later in Beijing, it was China’s only ever gold medal!


Later, in Beijing China fared much better. They secured three gold medals, the same number as Japan. The Land of the Rising Sun had been the dominant force since appearing in 1954 in London. No difference but it when considering the total medal haul, we witness the emerging dominance of China.


Overall, in Dortmund, for Japan, the total read 10 medals, in addition to six gold, they added three silver and one bronze; for China it was a complement of six, one gold and five bronze.


1959 World Championships - Dortmund


Gold: MT (Nobuya Hoshino, Teruo Murakami, Seiji Narita, Ichiro Ogimura)

Gold: WT (Fujie Eguchi, Kimiyo Matsuzaki, Taeko Namba, Kazuko Yamaizumi) 

Gold: WS (Kimiyo Matsuzaki)

Gold: MD (Teruo Murakami / Ichiro Ogimura)

Gold: WD (Taeko Namba / Kazuko Yamaizumi)

Gold: XD (Ichiro Ogimura / Fujie Eguchi)

Silver: WS (Fujie Eguchi)

Silver: WD (Fujie Eguchi / Kimiyo Matsuzaki

Silver: XD (Teruo Murakami / Kimiyo Matsuzaki)

Bronze: MS (Ichiro Ogimura)



Gold: MS (Rong Guotan)

Bronze: MT (Jiang Yongning, Rong Guotuan, Wang Chu)

Bronze: WT (Qiu Zhonghui, Sun Meiying, Ye Peiqiong)

Bronze: WS (Qiu Zhonghui)

Bronze: WD (Qiu Zhonghui / Sun Meiying)

Bronze: XD (Wang Chuanyao / Sun Meiying 


Fast forward to 1961 and the balance was very different; Japan secured six medals in total, three gold, one silver and two bronze.


For China it was 15 in total, three gold, four silver and eight bronze.



1961 World Championships


Gold: WT (Kazuko Ito, Kimiyo Matsuzaki, Tomie Okawa, Masako Seki)

Gold: MD (Nobuya Hoshino / Koji Kimura) 

Gold: XD (Ichiro Ogimura / Kimiyo Matsuzaki)

Silver: MT (Nobuya Hoshino, Koji Kimura, Teruo Murakami, Ichiro Ogimura, Goro Shibutani)

Bronze: WS (Kimiyo Matsuzaki)

Bronze: XD (Nobuya Hoshino / Masako Seki)


Zhuang Zedong at the vanguard of a new era




Gold: MT (Li Furong, Rong Guotuan, Wang Chuanyao, Xu Yinsheng, Zhuang Zedong)

Gold: MS (Zhuang Zedong)

Gold: WS (Qiu Zhonghui)

Silver: WT (Han Yuzhen, Hu Keming, Qiu Zhonghui, Sun Meiying)

Silver: MS (Li Furong)

Silver: WD (Qiu Zhonghui / Sun Meiying)

Silver: XD (Li Furong / Han Yuzhen)

Bronze: MS (Xu Yinsheng)

Bronze: MS (Zhang Xielin)

Bronze: MD (Li Furong / Zhuang Zedong)

Bronze: MD (Wang Jiasheng / Zhou Lansun)

Bronze: WS (Wang Jian)

Bronze: WD (Hu Keming / Wang Jian)

Bronze: WD (Han Yuzhen / Liang Lizhen)

Bronze: XD (Wang Chuanyao / Sun Meiying


Times change but in Houston later this year, as the French say, will it be “plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose?” Quite possibly.


Editor: Ian Marshall

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