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Table Tennis: Ito, 12, wins two golds at Chinese Taipei Junior and Cadet Open

9384257930_36a5dace0c_zJuly 28, 2013: Japanese table tennis sensation Mima Ito (pictured centre), just 12, has again showed the world why she is being touted as a future star by winning both age-group events at the ITTF Chinese Taipei Junior and Cadet Open.

 

Ito beat Japanese compatriot Ayane Morita in the final of the Junior (under 18) final at the Chinese Taiwan Gymnasium and Hong Kong’s Minnie Soo Wai-yam in the final of the Cadet (under 15).

 

Local boy Wen Wei-chieh thrilled the packed crowd to clinch gold in the boys’ Junior final over teammate Liao Cheng-ting and Japan’s Ryotaro Ogata beat Chin Mao-cheng to win the Cadet title.

 

Ito, who made the last 16 at a Senior World Tour event this year, successfully defended the two titles she won two years ago as an unknown 10-year-old, when she beat girls eight years her senior on her way to an historic victory.

 

9383595498_78ecee3a8d_c“I’m very happy to have won this double title for the second time after two years,” stated the Japanese prodigy (pictured right).

 

“Two years ago my technique was very basic and I won purely on my reflexes. This year, I have a much higher level of technique. I learned a lot of new shots and variations to assist my play.”

 

After her victories in 2011, Ito became a cult hero in Chinese Taipei. She was mobbed by fans every time she left the hall and had people lining up for 30 minutes to get an autograph from her at a signing session.

 

“This was a good experience for me signing all those autographs,” Ito said. “I was shocked how many people wanted to meet me and how excited people were to see me. I am happy about how I was able to stay composed and focused on the tournament.”

 

As Ito will only be 13 next year, she will be two years too young to participate at the Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, so has set her sights on competing at Rio 2016.

 

“It’s a shame I can’t compete in Nanjing 2014, but my complete focus is making the Japanese team for the 2016 Olympic Games,” she said. “It would be a dream come true to be a part of the Japanese team. I can then hopefully compete in Argentina for the 2018 Youth Olympic Games.”

 

Ito began the road to table tennis stardom at a very young age, going to watch her mother play from the age of three. She started to play at the age of five and now trains five hours a day, seven days a week – and up to 10 hours a day when attending a training camp.

 

Photos: ITTF

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