Reigning Olympic TT champs Ma Long, Ding Ning to skip Asian Games

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Beijing, July 18: Table tennis grand slam winners Ma Long and Ding Ning will skip next month’s Asian Games in Indonesia as China announced a youngsters-packed table tennis squad on Tuesday for the quadrennial continental event.
The Chinese table tennis team aims to win all the titles except that of the mixed doubles at the 18th Asian Games, which will be held in Jakarta and Palembang from August 18 to September 2, reports Xinhua news agency.

Coaching staff of the all-time leading Chinese team, however, have decided to rest the men’s team captain Ma Long, 30, the 2010 Guangzhou Asiad gold medallist, and female captain Ding Ning, 28, whose collection is just missing a singles title of the Asian Games.

World Cup title holders Fan Zhendong, 21, and Zhu Yuling, 23, will lead the field in the table tennis competitions. Teenagers Wang Chuqin and Sun Yingsha were also called up.

“We want to give more opportunities to the younger members of the team since the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games are already in sight and those youngsters are the future,” said coach Li Sun.

With youngsters gradually taking the stage, Li hopes those established players could feel the pressure.

“The elder players might need some extra motivation after such a long reign on the sport,” he said. “Our youngsters are good too. We just need to look if they are as good as the elder ones and as competitive as usual in the elder ones’ absence.”

Another active Grand Slam winner Zhang Jike and the world’s top male pen-hold paddler Xu Xin, will also skip the Asian Games and take part in August’s Bulgaria Open instead, according to the Chinese Table Tennis Association (CTTA).

The 18th Asian Games will be the first time in history that the Asian Games table tennis competition does not feature men’s and women’s doubles events. (IANS)