Tomokazu Harimoto, 16, will make his Olympic debut after being selected for the Japanese table tennis team on Monday. Born to two former Chinese national team members, Harimoto, now ranked fifth in the world, became the youngest ever world junior champion in 2016 when he was just 13.
He went on to break more records, becoming the youngest ever winner of an ITTF World Tour men’s singles title, winning the Czech Open title at 14 and becoming the youngest player to win the ITTF World Tour Grand Finals at the age of 15, reports Xinhua news agency.
The Olympic host has pinned very high hopes on the teenager for winning their first table tennis gold medal. Japanese players won their first medal in the 2012 London Olympics, taking the silver in the women’s team event. They brought three medals home from Rio, the men’s team silver, women’s team bronze and men’s singles bronze.
Harimoto will be joined by No. 15 Koki Niwa and No. 16 Jun Mizutani in the men’s team while the women’s team is made up of No. 3 Mima Ito, No. 9 Kasumi Ishikawa and No. 11 Miu Hirano, according to the Japanese Table Tennis Association.
Mizutani, who won the men’s singles bronze in Rio, will also compete in the mixed doubles event with Ito. The event will become a medal event for the first time in Tokyo.