Guo Yan Ascends Table Tennis Throne

  • October 11, 2010
  • Editor: Sun Xi
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Chinese player Guo Yan, recent winner of the women's singles championship in the Table Tennis World Cup, beat Chinese player Liu Shiwen and Singapore player Feng Tianwei to head the official world No.1 International Table Tennis Federation list of top women players.

The 27-year-old veteran is the seventh Table Tennis Queen since October 1991, when the ITTF adopted the Computer Integral Ranking System based on players' international competition scores.

 Deng Yaping was the first no. 1 -- a title she retained from October, 1991 to December, 1998, making her the longest-ever reigning Table Tennis Queen.

[from ITTF official website]

 Deng won gold medals in the 1997 World Table Tennis Championship women's singles, doubles and team events. It was not until 1998, a year after she retired, that she relinquished her No.1 world ranking.

Wang Nan and Li Ju maintained Deng's standards of excellence, each winning in turn international championships. Li's more aggressive approach gave her the edge over Wang till the autumn of 1998, when Wang narrowed her point differential by successfully defending her championship in the World Cup women's singles. By the 12th World Ranking in 1998, Wang was only 13 points behind Li, and 12 points behind Deng. Everything then rested on the Bangkok Asia Games at the end of that year. Wang turned up trumps when she defeated Li in the women's singles to become the second Table Tennis Queen.

Zhang Yining became the third Queen in 2002 when she generated 2,340 more points on the 12th world ranking list than Wang.

Like Deng, Zhang reigned long as Table Tennis Queen, largely due to winning the Olympic and World Table Tennis Championships in 2004. She retained her no. 1 spot despite failing to reach the 2007 World Table Tennis Championship finals.

Guo Yue narrowed the gap between herself and Zhang to within 100 points after winning the 2007 World Table Tennis Championships. Her 12,979.50 score beat Zhang's 12,807.75 to make her the fourth Table Tennis Queen in 2008. Zhang's five-year reign as No. 1. player was second only to that of Deng Yapin.

A month later Zhang regained her throne, with Li Xiaoxia at No. 2 and Guo Yue at No. 3, ahead of Wang Nan. All four were close in points, Zhang just 39 points ahead of Wang.

During the next few months, Zhang stuck to her no.1 spot before putting a safe distance between her and the other three when she won the Beijing Olympics women's singles.

Zhang went through a period of adjustment after the Beijing Olympic Games, during which Li Xiaoxia excelled in the Table Tennis World Cup and China Open and became the fifth Queen when she headed the 2008 11th World Ranking List .

But a month later the indefatigable Zhang bounced back once more to beat Li and retain her dominance until 2010.

As Zhang was seldom seen in international competitions after winning the World Table Tennis Championships, her score advantage dwindled. Liu Shiwen, winner of the women's single Table Tennis World Cup Championship became the sixth Queen when she topped by two points World Ranking List of January 3, 2010. Zhang's 81-month reign was just six months shorter than that of Deng Yaping.

Liu maintained her no. 1 ranking for the nine months until October 5 this year, when Guo Yan appeared at the top of the latest list and became the seventh Table Tennis Queen. At 27, Guo is the oldest to hold this honor for the first time.

Gallery of ITTF Computer Ranked Table Tennis Queens

No. 1 Deng Yaping (1991.10-1998.12)

Deng Yaping, born on February 5, 1973 in, Henan Province, and who between 1989 and 1997 won six world championships and four Olympic championships, is regarded as one of the greatest players in the history of the sport.

Deng began playing table tennis at five, and won her provincial junior championship four years later. She won her first national championship at age 13.

Despite her success, Deng's petite 1.5 m (4 feet 11 inches) height delayed her entry into the national team. Her obvious talent, however, could not keep her out of the national team, which she entered in 1988. She teamed up with Qiao Hong in 1989 to win her first world championship title in the women's doubles competition. Two years later in 1991, Deng won her first singles world championship.

She won a gold medal in both the singles and doubles competition at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, and repeated the feat in the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia. Deng also won singles and doubles titles at the 1995 and 1997 world championships.

Deng retired at the age of 24 having won the table tennis world championships 18 times and four Olympic gold medals – achievements no other player has equaled. She retained the title of world No. 1 woman table tennis player for the eight years from 1990 to 1997. Deng was voted Chinese woman athlete of the century and joined the International Table Tennis Federation Hall of Fame in 2003.

After retiring at the end of the 1997 season, Deng served on the International Olympic Committee Ethics and Athletes commissions. She is also a member of the elite Laureus World Sports Academy and of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.

Deng gained a bachelor's degree from Tsinghua University, a master's degree from the University of Nottingham, and in March 2006 embarked on a PhD. in Land Economy at Jesus College, University of Cambridge. Her research work related to her professional focus on the marketing, management and development of the 2008 Beijing Olympics as a member of the Beijing Organizing Committee.

In 2007, Deng married Lin Zhigang, also a table tennis player. The couple now has a son..

In 2008, Deng received a PhD degree from Cambridge for her thesis, "The impact of the Olympic Games on Chinese development: A multi-disciplinary analysis."

No. 2 Wang Nan (1999.01—2002.11)

Wang Nan, born on October 23, 1978 in Fushun, northeast China's Liaoning Province, retained her world No.1 ranking on the ITTF system from January, 1999 to November, 2002. Left-handed Wang began playing table tennis at seven-years-old. Apart from her deadly speed, Wang's characteristic skill is that of changing the ball placement during rallies and her loop drive. Wang has led the China women's table-tennis team since Deng Yaping's retirement.

In 1994 Wang Nan won the women's singles title at the Sweden Open. The next year she was selected for the China's national team and represented China at important competitions such as the World Table Tennis Championship, Women's World Table Tennis Cup and the Olympic Games. From 1997 to 1998 she won the Women's World Table Tennis Cup twice, and also the US Open and China Open. At the 1998 Asian Games in Bangkok, Wang executed a clean sweep of gold medals at the women's singles, doubles, mixed doubles and team events. She ended 1998 by winning the ITTF tour finals.

Wang carried on in fine style throughout 1999, when she won the World Table Tennis Championships gold medal and the ITTF tour finals singles and doubles gold medals, thus becoming world No.1. Her outstanding performance in 2000 at the Sydney Summer Olympics, when she won the singles and doubles gold medals, earned her the title of Grand-Slam champion.

Wang's performance faltered in the 2002 Asian Games in Busan, where she failed to win gold medals in either the women's singles or team events. But she was back on top form at the 2003 World Table Tennis Championships in Paris, where she represented China for the fourth time. There she won gold medals in the singles and doubles – for the third time in a row -- and also the mixed doubles. Wang Nan lost her singles crown at the 2004 Summer Olympics, but won with Zhang Yining the women's doubles.

Four years later at the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics, Wang got through to the Women's Final, but lost to Zhang Yining. She did, however, win the team gold for the host country.

No. 3 Zhang Yining (2002.12—2007.12 2008.02—2008.10,2008.12—2009.12)

Zhang Yining, born on October 5, 1982 in Beijing, is considered one of the greatest women table tennis players in the history of the sport.

A graduate of Beijing's Shichahai Sports School, Zhang has won four Olympic gold medals, nine World Championships, and four World Cup Championships.

Now married, Zhang did not take part in the 2010 ITTF Pro Tour.

No. 4 Guo Yue (2008.01)

Guo Yue, born on July 17, 1988 in Anshan, northeast China's Liaoning Province, is a left-handed attack player and potential leader of the Chinese Women's Team.

Guo began playing at age six. She entered the Liaoning Provincial Sport School in 1996 and the National Team in 2005. Her style combines the shake-left-handed grip and arc spin rapid attack normally associated with men players. It gives her the advantage of three devastating hits at the start of a rally. In 2002 she became the youngest woman to win the ITTF women's singles silver medal. In 2003, 15-year-old Guo won the ITTF Japanese women's singles championship, and in 2004 the 47th World Table Tennis Championships women's group gold medal, becoming the world's youngest championship winner in China's history of table tennis.

Guo then experienced a string of losses in international games and dropped out of public view for almost six months. She was back on form at the 2006 Asian Games in Doha, where she took first place in the women's singles, women's doubles and women's team events. From January to July 2007, Guo attended six International Opens and won four gold medals. She also won the 2007 World Table Tennis Championships and the mixed doubles title in Zagreb,Croatia.

No. 5 Li Xiaoxia (2008.11)

Li Xiaoxia, born on January 6, 1988 in Anshan, north eastern Liaoning province is a shake-right-handed player with an arc spinning quick attack that combines Chinese speed and flexibility with European arc spinning skills.

After entering the national team, she won the National Championship women's singles in 2002 and, with her teammates, the women's team event gold medal at the 16th European Table Tennis Championships in February 2003.

Li was also the winner of women's team event in the 2006 and 2008 World Championships, the women's team event of 2007 World Cup, the 2008 World Cup women's singles, the 2009 World Championships women's doubles and the 2010 World Cup women's team event.

Li Xiaoxia looks to be one of the most valuable players of the future in the China Team.

No. 6 Liu Shiwen (2010.01—2010.09)

Liu Shiwen, born on April 12, 1991 in northeastern Liaoning Province entered the Chinese National Team in February 2004. She is also the current No.1 player on the ITTF Under-21 World Ranking list. Her style of play is characterized by the shake-right-handed, double-edged skills of quick attack and arc spinning.

Liu won the 2009 World Championships women's doubles, the 2010 Kuwait Open Pro Tour and 2010 Asian Cup women's singles.

No. 7 Guo Yan (2010.10—?)

Guo Yan, born on June 24, 1982 in Beijing, won the 2006 and 2010 Table Tennis World Cup.

A player since age seven, Guo entered the National Team in 1998. Her playing style is characterized by a shake-right-handed grip, and a lethal attack and two-sided arc spin usually associated with men players.

(Source: sports.sina.com&wikipedia/Translated and edited by womenofchina.cn)

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