Hina Hayata, the successor of Yoshizumi Ishikawa, has a secret in her mind: “I will lead the next team!” | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Hina Hayata, the successor of Yoshizumi Ishikawa, has a secret in her mind: “I will lead the next team!”

Bronze medal in the Women's Singles at the World Championships, inheriting the spirit of her senior player, Yoshizumi Ishikawa, whom she admires.

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on LINE
Hayata has been competing for 18 years, and his rise to No. 8 in the International Table Tennis Federation’s world rankings, updated on May 30, has given him further momentum for the Paris Olympics (PHOTO: AFRO)

“The color we are aiming for is not this color.”

Hina Hayata (22) won the bronze medal in the women’s singles event at the World Table Tennis Championships held in South Africa from May 20 to 28, becoming the first woman in 58 years to win a medal by defeating a Chinese player.

Hayata, who has been called the “golden generation” of table tennis together with her classmates Miu Hirano (23) and Mima Ito (22), has been in the shadow of Miu-Mima for a long time. He often lost to them in domestic tournaments, and even at the Tokyo Olympics the year before last, he never played in the games, but participated as a support member, which was a frustrating experience for him. I have the impression that she has finally awakened here,” said a reporter for a sports newspaper.

Hayata, who performed the best among the Japanese competitors in this competition, earned 135 points for the preliminary selection for the Paris Olympics. She is now the leading candidate among Japanese women for the Paris Olympics, more than 200 pts ahead of Hirano and Ito, the runners-up. Behind her leap forward is her coach Daisuke Ishida (43), who has worked with her since they were junior high school students.

Hayata uses a forehand drive (a technique to increase the speed of the ball while applying a violent forward rotation to it), and if the success rate is low, he teaches her to make her swing smaller and make sure she gets it in. However, Coach Ishida has continued to make Hayata hit with a big swing and with all her might, and has steadily nurtured the 166 cm tall girl so that she can accurately hit a flashy, powerful shot without keeping her movements small. Coach Ishida’s dedication to teaching her blossomed as he even cooked for her to keep her in good physical condition,” said Jota Ito, a table tennis columnist.

Hayata, who has a humble character, has rarely expressed her feelings with strong words. The reason behind her decision after the World Championships to say, “This is not the color I am aiming for,” is the presence of Yoshizumi Ishikawa (30), who announced his retirement on May 1.

Hayata admired Ishikawa, who is also left-handed, so much that when she was in elementary school, she lined up for his autograph signing and shook his hand with her left hand. As Hayata grew up and became a member of the national team and other teams with Ishikawa, he was further inspired by him. His efforts to learn Chinese on his own and receive strict guidance from Chinese coaches, as well as Ishikawa’s attitude of cheering him on with all his might even when he was competing against his rival juniors, must have had a great influence on Hayata. After Ishikawa announced his retirement, Hayata expressed her determination to those around her, saying, “It’s my turn to lead the next generation.

For Hayata, who inherited Ishikawa’s spirit, the goal of “defeating China and winning the gold medal” is no longer a pipe dream.

Hayata’s style is the same as that of the Chinese, which is to attack with unmatched accuracy and power shots, without taking any bizarre measures. At the World Championships this time, Hayata showed that his ability is good enough to play against the Chinese. The Chinese media also praised Hayata’s fighting spirit as the foreign player who beat Wang Geidi (26), the team’s leading player.

With one year to go until the Paris Olympics, Hayata is ready to take her game to the next big stage.

Hina Hayata holds up the bronze medal she won in the women’s singles (left) and the silver medal she won in the mixed doubles in Durban (Kyodo).

From the June 16-23, 2023 issue of FRIDAY

  • PHOTO AFRO, Kyodo News

Photo Gallery2 total

Photo Selection

Check out the best photos for you.

Related Articles