I wonder how Jeremy Hazin felt when he received my message on behalf of the TTCAN Board of Directors informing him that he has qualified for the Tokyo Olympic Games men’s singles event. I did receive a polite response from Jeremy accepting the qualification spot.

I heard lately, repeatedly, in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic “Let’s not waste a good crisis”, or another expression “Let’s make the best of this crisis”. How does this relate to Jeremy? With the postponement of the Olympic Games to July 2021, it gives him (and others) more than a year to prepare for the Games without worrying about the qualification system, qualification events, and rankings.

I told Jeremy in my response to his acceptance, that this is not just a “participation” opportunity, but it is a chance to have good results with proper preparation and hard training. In fact, Jeremy told me that he does practice every day at home, and that he is also practicing “new serves”. This is great news.

At the Canadian Olympic Qualification tournament held in Kitchener/Waterloo on 5 March 2020, Eugene Wang was first and Jeremy was second. At the North American Qualification on 7 March in the same place, again the exact same result with Eugene placing first and Jeremy second. In the Women’s event, Mo Zhang was first and as a surprise, or perhaps “well deserved”, May Tong was second.

About a week later, by e-mail confirmations, the Board of Directors agreed to enter the second-place finishers into the World Final Olympic Qualification event scheduled for the end of May 2020 in Doha, Qatar. This event is now cancelled and will be rescheduled for a later date. However, the decision of the Board still stands. This means that normally TTCAN would send May Tong and Jeremy Hazin to try an qualify for the final spots for the Olympic Games.

If we backtrack a bit, about 10 days after the North American qualification, Eugene Wang informed me officially that he wishes to concentrate only on the Mixed Doubles event at the Olympic Games for several reasons. Mixed Double preparation is special, his age, his chances in singles, and finally his wish to focus on the mixed doubles as he feels that he and Mo could have a good result. This matter was discussed with the HPC Chair, Dejan Papic and with the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC), who agreed to Eugene’s request. Of course, the Board was also immediately informed.

The COC informed the ITTF by confirming Mo Zhang for singles, Mo and Eugene for the XD, and declining the men’s singles quota.

A few days later, according to ITTF and IOC regulations, the ITTF informed the COC that Jeremy Hazin is the replacement to fill the available quota and asked the COC to confirm. Of course, the COC confirmed, the ITTF updated its list of qualifiers and Jeremy was informed accordingly.

Now, let’s get back to the Board’s decision to enter and fund the second-place players from the North American qualification into the Final World Olympic Qualification. The women’s event is not affected by the change, so May Tong will be entered in the event once it is rescheduled. However, for the men, I discussed an idea with the Chair of the Competition Committee, Rémi Tremblay, and with our HPC Chair, and they both think that the idea is good. So, I have decided to propose to the Board of Directors, given the fact that Jeremy Hazin is now qualified, to hold a special open competition, open to all men players, regardless of age, ranking, status or size; at which the winner will be funded and entered in the Final World Olympic Qualification. I hope that the Board accepts this proposal. This is an opportunity for all those who feel they may have a chance, or those who feel they were neglected, or those who feel they can win; they should all participate and see what they can achieve. But more importantly this is a unique and historic opportunity for any Canadian male player to be part of the quest of being an Olympian.

First, we must think of a system that is fair for all across Canada, then we must design the competition format, and of course we need the approval of the Board.

ALL IDEAS ARE WELCOME!

If you have any ideas on how this event could generate interest; how it could involve as many players as possible, and how our sport in Canada could benefit from such an event from a promotional point of view, then please send your ideas to : ttcan@ttcanada.ca

I call upon all players, young and old, to get ready and be part of this unique event.

For the younger generation who may not recall what happened in the year 2000, here is an interesting story.

In 2000 the Canadian Women’s team was selected to participate in the World Team Championships. Canada send a team of 4 players. A defensive player from Vancouver, Chris Xu, had good results during the year but did not make the team. In order to reward her efforts, TTCAN at the time decided to send her as a “compensation” to the Final World Olympic Qualification. Guess what? She earned herself a spot in the women’s singles event at the Olympic Games !! How? She had a peculiar awkward defensive style, but the most important factor is that she was super motivated and saw a unique chance to go to the Olympic Games. She rose to the occasion and beat several players much higher ranked than her.  I will never forget this incident.

If the Board agrees with this concept, and if we can work out the logistics of this competition, I hope that as many players as possible could participate in this unique event.

Lucky for the men that Chris Xu cannot take part.

Adham Sharara – TTCAN President