by Simon Daish

Turning promise into success

Entering the scene in 2014 with his senior debut coming at the 2014 ITTF World Tour event in Warsaw, Poland, Tomokazu Harimoto made great strides over the following two years with results to back it up.

Crowned under 21 men’s singles champion at the 2016 ITTF World Tour LAOX Japan Open, Harimoto’s next big milestone performance came in early 2017 as he progressed to a senior final for the first time in his career with his runner up finish at the 2017 ITTF World Tour India Open.

Garnering real momentum, Harimoto produced another impressive display in Chengdu, China in June 2017. There was something special about this young teenager from Japan – that became very apparent two months on from his China Open exploits as Harimoto broke new grounds in the sport with his mesmerising feat at the 2017 ITTF World Tour Czech Open!

Living on the edge

A campaign which will be reflected upon for years to come as a breakout moment for Harimoto, however, we shouldn’t forget there were numerous eggshells to negotiate along the way.

The pressure was on right from round one as Harimoto survived a huge scare, squeezing past Kazakhstan’s Kirill Gerassimenko 4-3 (11-8, 1-11, 13-11, 12-14, 11-8, 4-11, 11-7). Maharu Yoshimura, a familiar name to young Harimoto, awaited in round two – another win for the latter player but it was by no means straightforward (11-8, 11-3, 5-11, 11-8, 7-11, 11-8).

Harimoto’s journey wasn’t about to become any easier, needing the full match distance against Kristian Karlsson (11-9, 7-11, 11-4, 9-11, 12-10, 9-11, 11-6) and then Hugo Calderano (6-11, 12-10, 4-11, 11-4, 11-9, 9-11, 16-14). Through to the final, just one hurdle remained and with it his greatest challenge yet.

Writing his name in the history books

The man standing between 14-year-old Harimoto and the summit of the medals podium was none other than Timo Boll. A true legend of the sport with 19 ITTF World Tour men’s singles titles to his name, former World no.1 Boll was chasing his second gold of the year having emerged as 2017 Korea Open champion in April. The German star was the favourite in Olomouc, but the day would belong to his Japanese counterpart!

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