Inaugurated in Hong Kong in 1996 when Deng Yaping won the Women’s Singles title beating Yang Ying in the final; now two decades later, the name at the top of the invitation list for the 2016 Women’s World Cup is a player who has emulated one of the legends of sport.
Just as Deng Yaping became Olympic champion and World champion; holding both titles at the same time, it is an achievement which Ding Ning currently possesses.
She is the name that heads the invitation list for the tournament which commences on Friday 7th October and concludes on Sunday 9th October.
Major difference A similarity but there is one major difference, the tournament will be staged in the United States of America; the home is the Liaouras Center at Temple University in Philadelphia.
It will be only the second time that the prestigious tournament has been staged outside Asia; the one other occasion was in 2014 when the Austrian city of Linz was the home.
Omen for Ding Ning Now is that a good omen for Ding Ning? In Linz she emerged victorious beating the now retired colleague Li Xiaoxia in the final.
One other fact that may well be in favour of Ding Ning is that the one previous occasion when she won the title was in 2011 in Singapore; at the time, just as now, she was the reigning World champion. Ominous name
Time will tell but there is one further ominous name of the invitation list; that of colleague, Liu Shiwen, the most successful player in the history of the tournament.
Notably when she won last year in the Japanese city of Sendai, it was the fourth time she had secured the coveted title.
Invitation list A total of 20 players appear on the invitation list; the list comprises the reigning World champion, the players who finished in the top three places in each of the Asian and Europe Cup competitions plus the winners from the continental up events in Africa, North America, Latin America and Oceania.
One place is allocated as a “Wild Card” at the discretion of the International Table Tennis Federation with the remaining places being filled from the highest ranked players in the continental tournaments, not already qualified.
Each national association is limited to a maximum of two players.