Japanese table tennis star expressed special thanks to China and her Chinese fans when she announced on October 21 that she is retiring from the sport.
“I first gripped a racket at the age of three, turned professional at 10 and began playing for the national team at 11,” she wrote in a statement, adding that it had been a long journey.
Fukuhara, 29, was regarded as a child prodigy in Japan. She moved to China for training at five and speaks fluent Mandarin with a northeastern accent. She is well known to her millions of fans in China as the “Japanese Doll.”
The Japanese women’s table tennis team led by Fukuhara won silver at the London Olympics in 2012 and bronze at the Rio Olympics in 2016.
Fukuhara married a table tennis player originating from Chinese Taipei in 2016 before giving birth to a baby girl last year. She has not competed since then.