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Japan seeks to end China's dominance in Olympic table tennis

Xinhua | Updated: 2021-07-23 14:49
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Japan's Jun Mizutani and Mima Ito are seen during the official training before the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium in Tokyo, Japan, July 21, 2021. [Photo/IC] 

TOKYO - Japan's table tennis team stoked the fires ahead of the Olympic Games as the hosts want to end China's monopoly when mixed doubles debuts on Saturday.

Japan has never won the table tennis gold in Olympic events, but Jun Mizutani/Mima Ito are expected to break the curse as Japan has enjoyed success in the event in recent years, most notably at the 2017 world championships, when Kasumi Ishikawa/Maharu Yoshimura won the country's first mixed doubles gold in 48 years.

Mizutani and Ito began their partnership in 2019 and won the title at the 2020 Qatar Open, an International Table Tennis Federation World Tour Platinum event.

"I also think 30% chance of gold," said Yoshihito Miyazaki, the Japanese Table Tennis Association's development director, echoing Mizutani's prediction of their chances.

Chinese Taipei coach Chiang Peng-lung also believes mixed doubles could offer the best chance for other teams to prevent a fourth consecutive Chinese team's sweep.

"The Chinese team is still very strong but unlike other events, the unpredictability in mixed doubles is greater," he said. "It's also the first event - everyone will be hungry so there might be more pressure. Other teams will try to execute; there might be a chance."

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