Thank you for your 23 years of active career! Yoshizumi Ishikawa, the Genius Table Tennis Girl’s Treasured Photo Collection!
The name of Yoshizumi Ishikawa became known throughout Japan when she was in her second year of junior high school.
At the 2007 All-Japan Championships, where she competed, she beat a succession of working professionals to finish in the top four. She was the most talked-about table tennis prodigy since Ai Fukuhara (34), and was also dubbed “Ai-chan II.
This magazine interviewed Ishikawa alone when she was a student at the prestigious Shitennoji Habikigaoka Junior High School in Osaka, away from her hometown in Yamaguchi Prefecture (the first and second photos). She was not at all intimidated by the old man reporter,
She said, “I didn’t feel any pressure at all. From now on, I will be studied, and I think I have to fight with stronger feelings than ever before.
She answered clearly, “I am going to be studied from now on, so I have to fight with a stronger mind than before. On the other hand, however, “I have seen the drama ‘Boys Over Flowers,
On the other hand, she also said, “I came to like Matsumoto (Jun) of ‘Arashi’ after watching the drama ‘Boys Over Flowers’.”
He also showed a side of a junior high school student.
Sixteen years later, at the age of 30, Ishikawa finally announced his retirement on May 1.
She was ranked 11th in the latest world rankings and was still showing no signs of slowing down. Sportswriter Mina Takagi, who has interviewed Ishikawa and covered table tennis for many years, said, “Ishikawa is a natural player.”
“I think everyone see her resignation coming, which is typical of Ishikawa. Of course, she wanted to go to the Paris Olympics in 2024, but she did not make it clear, partly because of the change in the national team selection criteria. Ms. Ishikawa fought through the grueling Olympic selection process, thinking at every game, ‘This may be my last.’ I think she went as far as she could go, while cutting down her energy. I think her words in her retirement announcement, “I’ve done my best,” expresses her feelings.”
Born to parents who were former table tennis players, Ishikawa began playing table tennis when he was in the first grade of elementary school. His father, Kimihisa, was astonished, saying, “This child may become much stronger than I imagined.
He made the Japanese national team as a junior high school sophomore, reached the top eight at the World Championships in his second year of high school, won a silver medal in the team competition at the 2012 London Olympics, his first appearance at the age of 19, and a bronze medal in the team competition at the Rio Olympics four years later.
Ishikawa’s life of table tennis seemed to be smooth sailing, but after the Rio ’16 Olympics, she hit a big wall. Amid the rise of young players such as Miu Hirano (23) and Mima Ito (22), he was unable to win. Her father, Kimihisa, told this magazine, “People say that table tennis is old-fashioned.”
“I am sure that Yoshizumi must have felt a sense of bitterness as people around her said that her table tennis was old-fashioned. Still, she faced rigorous practice to change herself and stepped up just in time.”
Ishikawa made a comeback, made the team for the ’21 Tokyo Olympics, and contributed greatly to the silver medal in the team competition. Overcoming hardships and inspiring young players, Ishikawa’s performance in the face of strong Chinese players impressed everyone in Japan.
People involved in table tennis say that Ishikawa is a “sincere and really good girl,” and after her retirement, she is sure to be inundated with offers to become a TV newscaster. What kind of path will she take in the future? What will he do in the future?
She will probably work as a commentator, but I don’t think she will be on TV all the time. She really loves table tennis, so I think her career will be centered on table tennis, including promotional activities.
Ishikawa also has an unexpected goal.
She loves rice and has said that she would like to grow her own brand of rice. I want to plant rice, harvest it, and polish it. She belongs to JA Zen-Noh, and if she is serious, ‘Kasumin Rice’ will become a reality (laughs).
Whatever path she takes, there is no doubt that the whole of Japan is rooting for her in her second life.
From the May 26, 2023 issue of FRIDAY
PHOTO： Kimikazu Mano (1st, 2nd) Family provided (3rd, 4th) Ryuichi Kawakubo/Afro Sports (5th) Toshikatsu Tanaka (6th) Naoki Morita/Afro Sports (7th)