World Table Tennis (WTT) has announced that Olympic medalist Ai Fukuhara will be appointed as its first Japan general manager.
According to WTT’s official website, part of Fukuhara’s new responsibilities will be the strategic development of WTT in Japan.
Other vital tasks will be getting sponsorship for WTT tournaments, increasing sales for media rights, and the growth of the sport.
Making the announcement, WTT director Steve Dainton commented he believes Ai is the perfect person for the role to help to achieve goals and share her skills and enthusiasm, making table tennis bigger than ever before.
Dainton also said:
“We believe there are many opportunities to be seized in Japan, and we would like to see a WTT event hosted in Japan soon.”
Reacting to her new role, the 33-year-old veteran commented on how she has been involved in table tennis for so long, and that she is ecstatic that WTT has noticed her and acknowledged her experience and talent.
She is looking forward to being able to share her expertise and to help support other players from a different angle and perspective.
Fukuhara is also hoping that she can get a new fan base for the sport.
Also known as ‘Ai-chan’ by her fans, Fukuhara is one of Japan’s most well-known and respected athletes.
Fukuhara won a silver medal at the London Olympics in 2012
Fukuhara started playing table tennis at just three years of age and became a professional player at age 10.
She became the youngest member of Japan’s national team, representing her nation at the Olympics four times.
She clinched the silver medal at the London Olympics in 2012.
Her other notable achievements include winning bronze at Rio in 2016.
Fukuhara also has six world championship medals to her name.
She retired from professional table tennis in October 2018.