Veteran paddlers Ding, Liu to miss Chinese team’s Olympic test run

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BEIJING, July 28 (Xinhua) — Women’s table tennis Grand Slam winner Ding Ning and reigning world champion Liu Shiwen will be sidelined for the Chinese team’s Tokyo Olympic Games test competition slated for August.

The Chinese Table Tennis Association announced on Tuesday that test matches will be staged in Lingshui, south China’s Hainan province from August 8 to 21, and stay true to the Olympic atmosphere as much as possible.

The test run follows the Tokyo Olympic Games program, with mixed doubles, women’s and men’s singles, women’s and men’s team winners coming out in turn. Seedings for each category are based on the latest ITTF world rankings.

Qin Zhijian, head coach of the Chinese men’s team, said players have been in fine form after gathering together again.

“They need one-week of concentrated training before the test run to recover their physical condition, and will gear up for the competition starting from August 1,” said Qin.

Apart from players in the first and second-string national teams, veterans Zhang Chao, Hou Yingchao along with young paddler Lin Shidong are also called up for the upcoming matches.

Qin regards the competition as a test for the team’s training over the past half a year, and also a starting point for the second half of 2020 to prepare for the World Championships in 2021.

Li Sun, Qin’s counterpart in the women’s team, feels excited about training in Lingshui and the restart of matches after almost half a year.

A total of 43 female paddlers will be present, including most players in the first and second-string teams. Mu Zi, Wu Yang and Hu Limei have also been recruited for the competition to mimic the team’s main opponents.

Li said that Ding has tried to make the most of this period to adjust her fitness and form.

“The Tokyo Olympics postponement has affected everyone’s preparation. We have trained for five months, which had a huge impact on our veterans. They have laid out a specific plan about training and adjustment over the coming days,” Li noted.

Liu is also absent from the competition due to an elbow injury.

“She has recently undergone surgery, and is in the rehab process,” Li said, adding that the team will spare no efforts in helping them through these adversities.

Li said the test run’s overall level is even higher than the Olympics.

“Hopefully everyone can take it as the real Olympic Games, especially for our young athletes, who can fully showcase themselves in absence of the two veterans,” Li commented. Enditem

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