I’m not about to throw in the towel: Hong Kong’s Jiang Tianyi after defeat in the Asia Olympic qualifiers
Veteran player loses to unheralded Kazakh but still has another chance in Sunday’s pool of matches; while Ho Kwan-kit celebrates getting his Rio ticket
Hong Kong veteran Jiang Tianyi hasn’t lost hope of making it to the Rio Olympics after watching younger compatriot Ho Kwan-kit book his ticket to Brazil in Saturday’s Asia qualification tournament.
Jiang lost 4-0 to Kirill Gerassimenko of Kazakhstan in the final of his pool (second stage) game. Victory would have sealed his ticket but he fared badly against the world No 195.
Given another chance to clinch one of the two remaining tickets on Saturday, Jiang failed to deliver again, losing to another Middle Eastern player, this time by Iran’s Noshad Alamiyan 4-1. That means 29-year-old Jiang’s last chance of reaching Rio would be through a complicated repechage system as he battles to become one of six reserve players on Sunday.
Jiang was clearly not happy with his performance, but the London Olympic Games representative said he wasn’t going to throw in the towel.
“There is still time left before the team selection and I will try to improve and impress the coaches,” said Jiang, the world number 55.
“In fact, I still want to prove my performance in London was no fluke when I led Hong Kong to the team bronze medal play-off despite losing the Olympic medal to Germany.”
While Jiang was contemplating his immediate future, Ho was celebrating after he shrugged off a bout of flu to defeat Zokhid Jenjaev of Uzbekistan 4-1 (2-11, 11-7, 11-7, 11-8, 12-10) in his group final, securing one of the six Olympic singles tickets on offer.
Ranked 52nd in the world, the 19-year-old Ho, was crowned the Philippines Open champion last year as an unranked player and he was delighted he will represent Hong Kong in Rio.
“The Olympics is only held every four years and the dream of every player,” said Ho. “I still need improvement on many aspects of my game before I can reach the highest standard but I will give it my best shot.”
Watch our post-match interview with Ho Kwan-kit
Hong Kong coach Chan Kong-wah said both Ho and Jiang would only be considered the third player for the team event of the Rio Games as world number nine Wong Chun-ting and world number 12 Tang Peng were his first choices for both the singles and team events.
This means they will not use the singles ticket won by Ho in Hong Kong, but through the world ranking of Wong and Tang to win their Olympic Games qualification.
Many top nations such as China, Japan, Singapore and South Korea did not even take part in the second stage qualification in Hong Kong as they all their players can qualify through their world rankings.
“At this stage I would say youngster Ho has a better chance [of playing in the team], but you cannot dismiss Jiang as he is regaining his best form. We will make the decision next month,” said the coach.
“Jiang’s performance in London four years ago was exceptional and he will be a strong weapon if he can regain his best form.”
The Hong Kong team will leave for the Poland Open next week to give Chan another opportunity to test his squad.
Watch: Hong Kong's Jiang Tianyi stunned by world number 195 in Olympic qualifier final