THE BLOG
06/08/2011 10:39 am ET | Updated Aug 08, 2011

World Table Tennis Champions Wang Hao and Zhang Jike to Defend China in London 2012

The much anticipated list of the Chinese players for the London Olympics was finally released three days before the deadline, June 10, 2011. The China’s Olympic list includes no less than world #1 Wang Hao and last World Champion Zhang Jike for Men's singles, and world #1 and #2 Li Xiaoxia and Guo Yan, respectively, for Women's singles.

A lot of controversies have aroused since ITTF's President Adham Sharara introduced the new reform that limits the number of players each country can send to the Olympics singles event, to only 2 players per association. This was clearly a measure intended to restrict the Chinese team, who in the last Olympics in Beijing swept with all the medals. And although high profile people from the Chinese TT complained about this, things were settled and all the countries were required to send their list of singles players by June 1st. However, because all of the Chinese players are in the top 28 of the world, ITTF allowed China to submit their list on June 10.

But the list was known three days before, as the Chinese Association has announced that the world’s top Chinese players Wang Hao, Zhang Jike, Li Xiaoxia and Guo Yan will be their players in London 2012 singles event. The list does not represent their direct qualification however, since the ultimate list will be coming from the ITTF.

Chinese Sports director Liu Fengyan explained that things will get much clearer in terms of participation after the World Final Olympic Qualification Tournament in Doha on May 10, 2012. “According to the ITTF rules on Olympic qualification, the federation will officially announce the final list of players who will have direct participation in London in accordance to the June 1, 2012 rankings”.

In addition Liu Fengyan also mentioned that if there would be unforeseen events, the ITTF will allow substitution. According to the rules, the substitutions must be reported before July 9 next year but for the Chinese team they must take place before May 10, 2012.

With this, Liu Guoliang, Men's Table Tennis Chinese coach, also emphasized that everything can happen in a span of more than one year worth of time. So, the four players are still susceptible to uncertainty until the ultimate list.

Next year’s World Team Competition is one of the important competitions the Chinese players have before the London Olympics. With regards to the criteria, Liu Guoliang said: “The candidates will have an opportunity to participate in the Olympics. Their performances recently are rather stable. Next year’s world team championship is a very important evaluation for our players. We get to see every athlete’s condition, his role in the team and who is better and most likely to attend.

With the Chinese list for London 2012 already known, Table Tennis fans around the world only regret about the absence of two key Chinese players because of Sharara's 2-players-per-country reform: Ma Long in the Men's side, a master player but who's yet to win a singles World Championships title, and Ding Ning in the Women's side, the recent 2011 World Champion who despite this fact couldn't qualify because she's "just" world #3, one place below the elected players Li Xiaoxia and Guo Yan.

Cross-posted from China finally announced their London 2012 players list, in tabletennista.com.