TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s Olympic medalist Ai Fukuhara and fellow table tennis player Chiang Hung-chieh of Taiwan announced their marriage on Wednesday.
Fukuhara, 27, began playing table tennis at the age of three and gained fame as a child prodigy in Japan, but her popularity extends far beyond her own country.
Her fluency in Mandarin and participation in China’s Super League have won her numerous supporters there and in other parts of East Asia, where she is often referred to as the “Japanese Doll”.
“I proposed to her after the Rio Olympics when I got a chance,” the 27-year-old Chiang, who also competed in Rio, told reporters in Tokyo.
“With regards to the way I proposed, I actually gave her a key and hoped that she would be an owner of our home.”
Fukuhara, now 27, competed in her first Olympics in 2004 when she was 15 years old.
At the Beijing Games in 2008, she carried the flag for the Japanese delegation and in London four years later was a member of the team who won their first silver in table tennis.
The pair showed off their custom-made wedding rings, engraved with table tennis balls, which were designed by Chiang.
“I was overwhelmed when he proposed, so I don’t remember what I told him in response,” said Fukuhara, who won a bronze medal in Rio.
(Reporting by Reuters Television,; Writing by Sudipto Ganguly, editing by Ed Osmond)