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Fukuhara Ai smiles during a news conference in Tokyo's Minato Ward on Oct. 23. (Mainichi)

Table tennis star Fukuhara announces retirement   

Two-time Olympic table tennis medalist Fukuhara Ai announced in a blog post on Oct. 21 that she is retiring from competition.

The four-time Olympian wrote in her blog, "I have decided to end my career as a player."

Fukuhara had been taking a two-year break to raise her child after marrying fellow table tennis player Chiang Hung-chieh, from Taiwan.

At an Oct. 23 news conference to announce her retirement shortly before her 30th birthday, Fukuhara said, "Looking at how well Japan's table tennis world is doing now, I thought things would be fine without me." Fukuhara, who played for about 26 years, also told reporters that table tennis had been her "benefactor," and that she was a "lifetime table tennis person."

Fukuhara was a key member of the women's team at the 2012 London Games that won Japan its first ever Olympic table tennis medal - a silver. She also won the bronze medal in the women's team event at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games.

The popular player was a pioneer of the trend to start sports training from a young age. "Ai-chan," as she is affectionately known in Japan, started playing at age 3, coached by her mother Chiyo.

[本文‐200 words]

週刊英語学習紙 毎日ウィークリー11月3日号

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