Photo:  At Toronto Airport on way to Portugal – from left to right: HongTao, Mo, Eugene and Jeremy.

 

The 3 Canadian Olympic Qualifiers, Mo Zhang, Eugene Wang and Jeremy Hazin are on their way to the Olympic Games. They will be accompanied by HongTao Chen who will act as the bench coach and sparring partner. Our High Performance Consultant, Dejan Papic, will also accompany the group but may only have access to spectators’ seats, if allowed, in Tokyo, as restrictions change daily.

This has been a very complicated journey due to the Pandemic. Canada did not qualify a “team” at the North American Olympic Team Qualifications held in October 2019 in the USA. However, Canada did qualify 3 players at the individual Olympic Qualification held in Kitchener, ON, in March 2020, just before the lock-down caused by the Pandemic.

As we all know, the Games were postponed by one year due to the pandemic and that disrupted all preparation plans. The advance training in Japan was no longer possible, and our HP Consultant tried very hard to find alternatives. Unfortunately, due to travel restrictions, vaccine requirements, etc., it was very difficult to find a suitable preparatory training prior to the Games. Luckily, Dejan Papic found an acceptable training possibility in Portugal. This may sound strange, but with good training partners it was a good alternative.

The special Olympic training in Canada started 3 months ago at the CCTTA Club in Markham, which opened especially for us with special permission obtained by the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) and accepted by the Ontario government. Eugene and Jeremy started an intensive training program assisted by HongTao as training partner. Mo Zhang joined the training in May, at which time more focus was put on the Mixed Doubles training, with HongTao arranging mixed doubles partners including himself to prepare our pair of Mo and Eugene. In the meantime, as it was felt that Jeremy needed “match experience” as soon as possible after a long period without matches, he embarked on a 4-week competition tour in the USA culminating with the Finals of the T2 series where he reached the semifinals in early June. Jeremy then rejoined the training in Markham.

We must all thank HongTao for dedicating a lot of time to help his fellow Canadians in the preparations for the Olympic Games, especially his involvement in preparing and perfecting our mixed doubles pair. TTCAN will start a “Come Back” special program calling back to competition and training the ex-National Team players, retired or active, to help raise the level of our young athletes.

 

We will follow closely the training in Portugal and then of course the results in Tokyo.

 

Go Canada Go!