(Reuters) – Japan’s Mima Ito is not intimidated by China’s formidable table tennis reputation in Olympics and the 15-year-old paddler will head to next month’s Rio Games determined to make her mark.
China won all four gold medals at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and repeating the feat four years later at London, while there is only one non-Chinese in the top five of women’s singles rankings.
World number nine Ito said Japan were well equipped to counter the threats of their Asian neighbors.
“The Chinese are consistent (at a higher level), but for me, they’re not the most difficult opponents to play against,” Ito told the Japan Times.
“They are certainly great in putting spins on their shots and in power, but they play pretty much normally. So it’s actually better for me to be in an attacking mode and take the pace of the game (against the Chinese).”
Ito has causes to be optimistic about her medal hopes as she beat world number two and reigning world champion Ding Ning in the Asian Olympic qualifier in April.
“I’ve competed against Ding Ning six times, and I played well against her in all the games.”
Ito, along with the likes of Ai Fukuhara and Kasumi Ishikawa, will be hoping to better the silver medal that Japan won in the women’s team event in London.
Ishikawa, ranked sixth in the world, said anything other than a gold will be greeted with disappointment in the camp.
“I feel a strong responsibility,” Ishikawa said.
“The Olympics is a special stage and we would like to get there by doing everything we are supposed to do.”
(Reporting by Nivedita Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)