• Kyodo


Rio Olympic bronze medalist Jun Mizutani knows what he must do in order to stand on the podium at the World Table Tennis Championships for the first time, and is poised to continue challenging China’s dominance in the sport.

“I won’t be able to win a medal if I don’t beat Chinese players,” Mizutani said Tuesday at Narita airport before departing for the May 29-June 5 event in Dusseldorf, Germany.

“I want to put everything I have out there.”

Among the 27-year-old lefty’s achievements are nine national titles in men’s singles and two World Tour Grand Final titles, but the one thing Mizutani is missing on his illustrious resume is a world championships medal — which he hopes to change next week.

Mizutani will be competing as the sixth seed, while four of the top five seeds are Chinese players in both the men’s and women’s singles field.

Meanwhile, 17-year-old Miu Hirano, who beat the world’s top two players to win the women’s singles title at the Asian Championships last month, said she is in no hurry gearing up for the biannual event.

“I have a week to prepare so I hope to use the time wisely and be ready to go when it starts,” she said.

Tomokazu Harimoto, who at the age of 13 years became the youngest table tennis player to represent Japan at the worlds, didn’t set the bar as high, saying he just wants to make the best out of his first world championships experience at the senior level.

“I consider myself the weakest player. I hope to go all out and put on my best performance,” the reigning junior world champion said.

A total of 16 Japanese players — nine men and seven women — will be competing in the tournament featuring more than 600 players from 120 countries. The semifinals and final for men’s singles will be held June 5, the day after the final for women’s singles.

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