China, as expected, the big winners of the day
China was awarded 5 awards during the Gala Dinner, clinching the Male Star Player Award, Female Star Player Award, Para Female Athlete Award, Coach of the Year Award and the Shot of the Year. The Male Star Player Award, Female Star Player Award and the Coach of the Year Award was never in doubt awarded to Olympic gold medalists Ma Long, Ding Ning, and China’s head coach Liu Guoliang after a successful Olympics outing which saw China sweep all 4 Gold Medals.
Olympics Gold Medalist earns 2nd consecutive Male Star Player Award
Ma Long, who has a 41-3 win-loss record this year, received the well-deserved Male Star Player Award, only losing to his Chinese compatriots in Fan Zhendong and Xu Xin. He managed to create history by completing the Grand Slam after he won the gold medal at the Olympics, the only achievement missing from his trophy cabinet. Ma Long was only the 5th male player in history to achieve the Grand Slam. He is also the first ever player to become the defending champion at the World Cup, World Championships, World Tour Grand Finals and the Olympics all at the same time, and he would definitely be remembered as a legend in the future.
Another Olympics Gold Medalist earns her 2nd consecutive Female Star Player Award too
Ding Ning had a 36-4 win-loss record this season, also only losing to her compatriots only, with the exception of the talented youngster Mima Ito. Ding Ning had an awesome stretch coming into the World Tour Finals; winning the China Open, Korean Open and most importantly, the Olympics Gold Medal and with a 17-0 record since the Japan Open. Similar to Ma Long, Ding Ning won the only item missing from her collection of trophies, at the 2016 Rio Olympics, which also allowed her to complete a Grand Slam, becoming the 2nd player to do so this year alongside Ma Long.
Other Big Winners of the day
Liu Jing, also from China, won the Female Para Athlete Award, after she had yet another successful Paralympics campaign, winning 2 Gold Medals. Her total medal count from the Paralympics in her career now stands at 5 Gold Medals, which is exceptionally impressive.
Belgian Laurens Devos became the youngest player ever to win gold in the table tennis event at the Paralympics when he clinched the gold medal in the Men’s Singles Class 9 event. Devos also becomes the youngest recipient of the Male Para Athlete Award in the history of ITTF.
The Fair Play Award went to the 15 year old Rinad Fathy of Egypt, after she showed a tremendous amount of sportsmanship during her match in the final of the Girl’s Team event at the ITTF African Junior Cadet Championships against Tunisia.
Miu Hirano won the Breakthrough Player of the Year Award after she managed to be the youngest player ever to win the World Cup. At the ongoing World Tour Finals, Hirano had also upset World No.6 Feng Tianwei in the Round of 16, replicating the win from the semifinals at the World Cup.
The last award went to Fan Zhendong, who hit an incredible shot from down the net against Simon Gauzy to clinch the Shot of the Year Award.
Hall of Fame
Having achieved many milestones in their careers, Ding Ning and her teammates Xu Xin and Liu Shiwen, was also inducted into the ITTF Hall of Fame.