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Ai-chan expecting first child in autumn

Kyodo

Women’s table tennis icon Ai Fukuhara said Thursday she is pregnant and expecting this fall.

“We’re really pleased that a small life has come to us,” the 28-year-old four-time Olympian, who married Taiwanese table tennis player Chiang Hung-chieh last September, wrote on her blog.

“I believe my husband will be a good dad so I’ll study and prepare to be as good a mom until we welcome our baby,” she said.

The couple held their wedding ceremonies in Taipei in January and in Japan the following month.

Known affectionately as “Ai-chan” by her fans, Fukuhara started playing the sport at age 3 and soon became famous as a child table tennis prodigy.

Fukuhara, who won the women’s team silver at the 2012 London Games and bronze at last summer’s Rio Games, expressed her intention to continue competing when announcing the marriage but did not say when she will resume competitive table tennis or whether she will aim to take part in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

In January, Fukuhara said she will put family first before table tennis.