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Olympic Games: can Miu Hirano replicate form of teenage years?

Monday 31 May

 

Present at the Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympic Games when she secured silver in both the women’s singles and mixed team events, the latter when partnering Tomokazu Harimoto, that experience could well prove vital for Miu Hirano as she joins forces with Kasumi Ishikawa and Mima Ito in the Japanese line up for the women’s team event at the forthcoming Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.


 

Play in the event commences on Sunday 1st August.  

 

Most certainly, a noteworthy effort in the Argentine capital city but it is the form of some five years ago that the now 21-year-old will be aiming to emulate

 

Against the odds, playing in a most uninhibited manner, only 16 years old at the time, Miu Hirano won the Uncle Pop 2016 ITTF Women's World Cup presented by Polar Naturals, in Philadelphia, the one and only occasion when the tournament has been staged in the United States and won by a non-Chinese player.

 

A direct entry to the main draw, she accounted for Romania’s Elizabeta Samara, Japan’s Mima Ito and Singapore’s Feng Tianwei to reserve her place in the final where the good form continued. She ousted Chinese Taipei’s Cheng I-Ching to arrest the title.

 

Outstanding, less than one year later at the 2017 Asian Championships in Wuxi, the performance was even more of an eye opener. After accounting for Thailand’s Jinnipa Sawettabut and Korea Republic’s Lee Zion, once again she beat Cheng I-Ching to reserve her place in the quarter-final, the stage at which she raised her level of play to a whole new stratosphere.

 

She ended the hopes of China by beating Ding Ning, Zhu Yuling and Chen Meng; repeat that form in Tokyo and who knows what riches may await.

 

However, could the doubles partnership with Kasumi Ishikawa, formed at the Liebherr 2017 World Championships in Düsseldorf, when they reached the round of the last 16, losing to the champions elect, Ding Ning and Liu Shiwen, prove the telling factor?

 

In 2018, on the ITTF World Tour, they were semi-finalists in China, the following year they reached the same round in Austria and at the Asian Championships, climbing one step higher in Sweden.

 

Meanwhile in 2020, they were also semi-finalists in Qatar, runners up in Germany but most significantly winners in Hungary.

The doubles first in Tokyo, a good start and who knows what may happen.

 

Editor:Ian Marshall

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