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Fujie Eguchi (1932-2021)

Friday 18 June

The oldest living world champion, Japan’s Fujie Eguchi passed away on Friday 28th May.

Born on Friday 18th November 1932 in Nagasaki Prefecture, Fujie Eguchi moved to Osaka at the age of seven. She went to Higashisenba High School, where when 13 years old she started to play table tennis, before entering Osaka Pharmaceutical University.

Fujie Eguchi, the forehand lethal

Petite, pen-hold grip using one side of the racket only, speed both with movement and technical skills hallmarks of their play.

Prior to her appearance, defensive skills, combined with sporadic attacking strokes were very much the female style, Romania’s Angelica Rozeanu, the supreme model.

In 1954 she won the women’s singles title at the German Open, in 1957 the English Open, before in 1959 regaining her English Open title as well as winning in France. Additionally she emerged successful at the All Japan Championships in both 1954 and 1956.

However, it is at the World Championships where she enjoyed her greatest success; a total of five appearances at the World Championships, always returning with at least two medals, overall the record read: six gold, five bronze, five silver.

  • 1954 Stockholm – WS bronze, WD bronze (Kiiko Watanabe), XD silver (Yoshio Tomita), WT gold (Hideko Goto, Yoshika Tanaka, Kiiko Watanabe)
  • 1955 Utrecht – WD bronze (Kiiko Watanabe), WT silver (Shizuki Narahara, Yoshika Tanaka, Kiiko Watanabe)
  • 1956 Tokyo – WS bronze, WD silver (Kiiko Watanabe), WT bronze (Tomie Okawa, Yoshiko Tanaka, Kiiko Watanabe)
  • 1957 Stockholm – WS gold, XD gold (Ichiro Ogimura), WT gold (Taeko Namba, Tomie Okawa, Kiiko Watanabe)
  • 1959 Dortmund – WS silver, WD silver (Kimiyo Matsuzaki), XD gold (Ichiro Ogimura), WT gold (Kimiyo Matsuzaki, Taeko Namba, Kazuko Yamaizumi)

In 1958 Fujie Eguchi married Yoshio Tomita, the player with whom she won the mixed doubles in 1954 in Stockholm; in total he won eight medals at the World Championships but could not match his wife. Respectfully, he changed his name to Yoshio Eguchi! They had three children.

Later she was a member of the organising committee for the 2001 World Championships in Osaka.

Fujie Eguchi in 2015

Fujie Eguchi rest in peace.

Editor: Ian Marshall

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