Hong Kong focused on 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo as youngsters head to table tennis world championships

Tournament takes place in Dusseldorf, Germany, from May 29 to June 5 with over 600 players from all over the world vying for the five individual titles

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 17 May, 2017, 5:53pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 17 May, 2017, 9:11pm

Hong Kong will send their youngest-ever squad to the table tennis world championships later this month as they prepare for the Tokyo Olympic Games in three years.

Missing from the list are veterans Tie Yana and Jiang Huajun, while 24-year-old Lee Ho-ching will lead the women’s team which also includes 2014 Youth Olympics silver medallist Doo Hoi-kem, Ng Wing-nam and debutants Minnie So Wai-yam and Mak Tze-wing.

The men’s team features Wong Chun-ting, 25, who is already a mixed doubles bronze medallist with Doo at the last world championships, and three youngsters, Ho Kwan-kit, Lam Siu-hang and Ng Pak-nam, while Jiang Tianyi, 31, is the oldest in the squad.

“The world championships are second to the Olympic Games,” said coach Chan Kong-wah. “It is important to provide our players this kind of experience to prepare them for the Tokyo Games, which is our ultimate target.

“While most of these youngsters are still in the learning process, they are not without quality, especially in doubles, our traditional stronghold.”

Both the mixed doubles pair of Wong and Doo, and women’s doubles pair of Lee and Doo, are seeded second in the tournament, which takes place in Dusseldorf, Germany, from May 29 to June 5 with over 600 players from all over the world vying for the five individual titles.

Defending champions Ma Long of China and compatriot Ding Ling head the men’s and women’s singles seedings respectively.

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“It’s going to be a big challenge as this will be my first worlds,” said 20-year-old Lam, who surprisingly reached the Asian championships quarter-finals in Wuxi, China, last month.

Coach Chan paid tribute to Lam’s professional commitment in table tennis as the youngster gave up a university place to focus on a sporting career.

“He had some good results in the [Diploma of Secondary Examination], but instead he chose to become a full-time athlete,” said Chan. “He is calm and very clinical, which is not easy to be seen in a young player.”

In the women’s event, 19-year-old So is hoping to build on becoming the 2016 Youth Junior Circuit grand champion in India in January.

“My father is a retired table tennis player and when he asked me what I want to be when I grow up, I told him right the way that I want to become a world champion,” she said.