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    #1

    Any other sport or activity where a 14 year old can defeat a world champion?

    I can't think of any other sport or activity where a young teenager can compete and defeat the best in the world. And what does that say about table tennis as a sport that this happened, and looks like it could easily happen again? Is it good for the sport? Interesting times.

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    #2
    Gymnastics

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    #3
    Rock climbing.

    Chris Sharma and Adam Ondra were both prodigies and won titles as young teenagers. Quick check of Wikipedia shows that Sharma won the US Nationals at age 14 and did the then-hardest climb in the country the same year. Ondra won the World Lead Climbing Cup at age 16, the youngest he was allowed to enter. Both have gone on to have long and distinguished careers as probably the two greatest of all time. In Australia, Mike Law also did the generally-agreed hardest climb in the country at age 15.

    On the women's side Ashima Shiraishi was among the best women climbers at age 13. Sash DiGiulian and Lynn Hill were also considered among the best women climbers as teenagers.

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    #4
    Chess.

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    #5
    I guess many members here are too young to ever hear of Martina Hingis?

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    #6
    there are many actually: swimming, figure skating, tennis, snowboarding, skateboarding, springboard diver, gymnastics, etc. Some are 13 or younger, some are 15 16.
    Of course, it's not common and Harimoto is really phenomenal.

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    #7
    Quote Originally Posted by zeio
    I guess many members here are too young to ever hear of Martina Hingis?
    And before Hingis there was Jennifer Capriati who made the top 10 when she was 14, same age as Harimoto.

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    #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Andy44
    And before Hingis there was Jennifer Capriati who made the top 10 when she was 14, same age as Harimoto.
    Monica Seles domination of Steffi Graf

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    #9
    They asked Arnold Palmer once what he thought he gained in experience or wisdom, etc. as he aged, that gave him an edge over the younger players and he replied - "He could not think of a damn thing."

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    #10
    Quote Originally Posted by PiZa
    Chess.
    Apparently if you're a computer it only takes 4 hours from beginner to world champion.

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    #11
    Quote Originally Posted by PiZa
    Chess.
    And for anyone who doesn't think chess is a sport just be aware that -
    According to Robert Sapolsky, professor of neurology at Stanford University, Chess grandmasters use as many as 7000 calories a day when competing. As he puts it they are "turning on a massive physiological stress response simply with thought and doing the same thing with their bodies as if they were some baboon who has just ripped open the stomach of their worst rival and it's all with thought, and memories and emotions". That level of calorie use is equivalent to doing a stage of the Tour de France.


    "Players lose weight during tournaments," says Daily Telegraph chess correspondent Malcolm Pein. "It's like facing your final exams for nine days running, with exams lasting five hours at a time and the questions constantly changing."

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    #12

    Sounds familiar

    Quote Originally Posted by sderyke2002
    And for anyone who doesn't think chess is a sport just be aware that -
    According to Robert Sapolsky, professor of neurology at Stanford University, Chess grandmasters use as many as 7000 calories a day when competing. As he puts it they are "turning on a massive physiological stress response simply with thought and doing the same thing with their bodies as if they were some baboon who has just ripped open the stomach of their worst rival and it's all with thought, and memories and emotions". That level of calorie use is equivalent to doing a stage of the Tour de France...................................................."
    As a young man I did several motor rallies as Navigator (co-driver). Even after the more sedate navigational rallies, I was physically exhausted for the next week. Working the brain to that level of intensiveness really puts a stress on the body. Surprisingly, when I was the driver, I did not feel as tired compared.

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    #13
    Quote Originally Posted by sderyke2002
    And for anyone who doesn't think chess is a sport just be aware that -
    According to Robert Sapolsky, professor of neurology at Stanford University, Chess grandmasters use as many as 7000 calories a day when competing. As he puts it they are "turning on a massive physiological stress response simply with thought and doing the same thing with their bodies as if they were some baboon who has just ripped open the stomach of their worst rival and it's all with thought, and memories and emotions". That level of calorie use is equivalent to doing a stage of the Tour de France.


    "Players lose weight during tournaments," says Daily Telegraph chess correspondent Malcolm Pein. "It's like facing your final exams for nine days running, with exams lasting five hours at a time and the questions constantly changing."
    I think we have to place chess, e-sports or anything similar to those in a different category of sport than table tennis, football etc. Well it's a different kind of sport, they're clearly different. In chess you don't use your muscles (other than lifting those chess pieces) This doesn't mean it's not taxing on your body, which it obviously is as you mentioned. But you don't have to exert much physical force to accomplish something in the game.

    Either way, it's more impressive that Harimoto has done what he's done at his age because he's competing with grown men who should have the physiological advantage and the mental advantage. In gymnastics it's mainly younger people competing with each other anyway and being younger is where you have the physiological advantage.. if I'm not mistaken.

    Another sport that comes to mind is snooker where there should be potential for kids to beat pro adults.

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    #14
    What Harimoto did was pretty incredible and it’ll be hard to find something similar. On topic- I know there’s some really young F1 (also F3, etc) drivers like Max Verstappen who will win some races (similar to winning an open).


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    #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Richie
    I think we have to place chess, e-sports or anything similar to those in a different category of sport than table tennis, football etc. But you don't have to exert much physical force to accomplish something in the game.
    I am fine with that distinction as long as commentators stop referring to the chess match going on inside the heads of boxers, football players and mma fighters.

    Quote Originally Posted by Richie
    Either way, it's more impressive that Harimoto has done what he's done at his age because he's competing with grown men who should have the physiological advantage and the mental advantage.
    I don't know that it is obvious that what Harimoto has done is more impressive. True it includes both aspects but the degree to which they are involved is important as well. Certainly the mental aspect of table tennis pales in comparison to chess - so you would have to argue that the physical involvement makes up for it, some how, in some arbitrary equation, of some sort.

    I am very impressed with Harimoto and love his take no prisoners never back down approach - but does it stand out as far superior to everything any young athlete has ever done? Not so sure.

    Quote Originally Posted by Richie
    In gymnastics it's mainly younger people competing with each other anyway and being younger is where you have the physiological advantage.. if I'm not mistaken.
    Two issues with what you say here - first is that the reason young gymnasts only compete against other young gymnasts is because they have already eliminated the older ones at a much lower level of competition. Secondly you cannot have the position that Harimoto is at a physiological disadvantage because of his youth, and claim right after that, the young gymnasts have a physiological advantage because of their youth; at least not with out being a little more specific. Those specifics would limit the meaning to two slightly different concepts in the process. That is all well and good, as long as we are aware that by limiting the focus to certain aspects of the physicality, you are actually diminish the extent to which you are claiming Table Tennis and/or Gymnastics as a physical sport. Much as you did by saying chess and e-sports aren't as completely physical as football.

    I am not just knit picking here to be a pain, I am making the point that there are many different aspects to each and every individual sport and they are not so easily compared and so to the accomplishments in each are not easily elevated one above another.

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    #16
    I agree with you and my last sentence wasn't properly thought out. I thought younger gymnasts would have a physiological advantage due to the nature of the sport. But I'm not an expert on gymnastics, more throwing it out there as an area of discussion. Perhaps Harimoto has a physiological advantage over the older players, having faster reflexes for example. But it's too difficult to say. In gymnastics it appears to be the norm that the younger gymnasts compete against each other, while the older ones can't keep up with them, or am I wrong? It isn't the norm in table tennis that 12 year olds are beating pro players like Harimoto did when he beat Jens Lundqvist and now at 14 beating some of the most dominant players in our sport.

    Agreed that they aren't easily comparable and you'd have to be very knowledgeable about many different sports in order to say that Harimotos achievements are more impressive than that of others in other sports. As a table tennis player I'm biased and think what TH has achieved so far is just incredible. Beating Ma Long who's regarded as one of the greatest players of all time, plus many many other top players at only 14. How could one not be amazed?


    Quote Originally Posted by sderyke2002
    I am not just knit picking here to be a pain, I am making the point that there are many different aspects to each and every individual sport and they are not so easily compared and so to the accomplishments in each are not easily elevated one above another.

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    #17
    Quote Originally Posted by sderyke2002
    I am fine with that distinction as long as commentators stop referring to the chess match going on inside the heads of boxers, football players and mma fighters.



    I don't know that it is obvious that what Harimoto has done is more impressive. True it includes both aspects but the degree to which they are involved is important as well. Certainly the mental aspect of table tennis pales in comparison to chess - so you would have to argue that the physical involvement makes up for it, some how, in some arbitrary equation, of some sort.

    I am very impressed with Harimoto and love his take no prisoners never back down approach - but does it stand out as far superior to everything any young athlete has ever done? Not so sure.



    Two issues with what you say here - first is that the reason young gymnasts only compete against other young gymnasts is because they have already eliminated the older ones at a much lower level of competition. Secondly you cannot have the position that Harimoto is at a physiological disadvantage because of his youth, and claim right after that, the young gymnasts have a physiological advantage because of their youth; at least not with out being a little more specific. Those specifics would limit the meaning to two slightly different concepts in the process. That is all well and good, as long as we are aware that by limiting the focus to certain aspects of the physicality, you are actually diminish the extent to which you are claiming Table Tennis and/or Gymnastics as a physical sport. Much as you did by saying chess and e-sports aren't as completely physical as football.

    I am not just knit picking here to be a pain, I am making the point that there are many different aspects to each and every individual sport and they are not so easily compared and so to the accomplishments in each are not easily elevated one above another.
    This is beautifully reasoned and well argued. Thanks.

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    Sometimes it doesn't go to plan when the young superstar meets an old GOAT

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    #19
    We should make a distinction between boys and girls. Girls quite often mature physically sooner than boys. Hence top tennis players among women at much younger ages than boys. Bjorn Borg played a Davis Cup match at 15 but at that specific time Sweden was not strong in tennis and he didn't accomplish anything until a bit later.

    Gymnastics is a bit strange in that for women these days it almost seems like what is required to win at top levels is virtually impossible in anyone past their teen years, maybe because the power:weight ratio accompanied by flexibility is favorable at 15 or 16.

    There aren't a lot of active sports (thereby excluding chess) where 14 year old boys can beat world champions.

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    Yeah basically any sport where pure physical strength or size isn't a huge factor would be a sport where someone that young, while still maturing physically could thrive.

    I think others have listed the other sports already.

    I'll throw into the ring that competitive gaming would be another. Certainly if chess is in play (not taking shots here. I love chess and play it daily), then I think competitive gaming has to be also. Similar demands mentally and requires typically lightening fast dexterity & decision making.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Richie
    I think we have to place chess, e-sports or anything similar to those in a different category of sport than table tennis, football etc. Well it's a different kind of sport, they're clearly different. In chess you don't use your muscles (other than lifting those chess pieces) This doesn't mean it's not taxing on your body, which it obviously is as you mentioned. But you don't have to exert much physical force to accomplish something in the game.


    This is why the age old debate of "is this (insert game here) a sport?". Because would you say in Curling you have to exert much physical force? That's just one sport off of the top of my head. I'm sure I could think of others where maybe you do to an extent. But I wouldn't say you exert much. Certainly no more than what one does in say esports.

    If one disagrees with my Curling example. How about pool. Isn't that a sport? Maybe it's not. Make it's just a game and nothing more.

    Anyways. Sorry if this hijacked the thread with a relatively pointless debate. Yes it's rare what Harimoto has done. Table tennis just so happens to be a sport where someone who is shorter and not necessarily overly strong can succeed. Two things the best players must generally have in most other sports.

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