P-card activation, tough but worthy choice for China's table tennis team

(Xinhua) 10:05, August 02, 2021

TOKYO, Aug. 1 (Xinhua) -- China's table tennis team changed its roster for the Olympic women's team competition on Sunday, the day when the event gets underway.

Pestered by a recurring elbow injury, reigning women's singles world champion Liu Shiwen had to pull out of the team competition, and China's hopeful Wang Manyu took her role instead.

According to Li Sun, head coach of China's women's national team, Liu felt quite uncomfortable in training due to an elbow injury recurrence after finishing her mixed doubles duty on July 26.

"We asked the delegation's medical group for an immediate diagnosis on Liu," said Li.

The Chinese team's decision to activate its P-card holder Wang to replace Liu has drawn mixed feelings on social media once it was announced.

Some netizens expressed their concern about Liu's injury and wished her a speedy recovery, while others voiced their pity toward the 30-year-old Liu as she finished her possibly last Olympic appearance without a gold medal.

But among this, a handful of conspiracy theorists linked Liu's withdrawal to her defeat in the mixed doubles final, thus being "forced" to withdraw from the Games.

Liu and partner Xu Xin lost the Tokyo 2020 mixed doubles final to Jun Mizutani and Mima Ito, seeing hosts Japan claim its first-ever Olympic gold medal since the sport debuted in the Olympic Games in 1988.

However, this conspiracy theory is utterly disrespectful to both Liu and Wang.

Liu was an Olympic title-winning member with China in 2016. She claimed her first World Cup crown in 2009 and a record fifth 10 years later. Liu came out the winner at the World Championships in 2019, her very first at this prestigious international tournament.

In early 2020, she suffered a recurrence in her elbow injury while playing the ITTF World Tour German Open, which led to her withdrawal from the ensuing Qatar Open.

After the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics was announced in March last year, she decided to undergo surgery on her elbow before starting a painstaking recovery and being sidelined from several national and international competitions.

In an earlier interview, Liu recalled it was a difficult period for her while recovering from injuries as she was not aware of what awaited her going ahead.

"Through constantly getting used to the pain and giving myself challenges, I felt that I had a clearer target.

"The Olympic Games means a stage of a dream for me, and I'm eager to play on it," she said. "That's why I'm persevering now."

Following her injury recurrence, Liu informed the team's coaching group about this condition.

"As advised by the medical staff and under the principle of preserving athletes' health, we decided to apply for a P-card replacement," said Li.

The Chinese team's announcement has spoken for itself: putting athletes' health and safety on top priority to prolong their careers as much as possible.

After her withdrawal on Sunday, Liu voiced her pity for being unable to continue to play due to an injury recurrence, also expressing her appreciation toward everyone's support to her and the Chinese team.

A rare roster change made by team China also gives a test to young gun Wang, who was promoted to the national team at 17 years old.

Wang, 22, helped China win team titles at the World Championships and the World Cup in 2018. She is also the women's doubles winner at the 2019 World Championships along with Sun Yingsha, who finished runner-up in the singles event at this Games.

The Chinese women's team, seeking its fourth consecutive Olympic gold since 2008, squares off against Austria on Sunday. 

(Web editor: Xia Peiyao, Liang Jun)


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