Japanese Table Tennis Star Ai Fukuhara Awarded

Japanese table tennis star Ai Fukuhara awarded

Retired Japanese table tennis star Ai Fukuhara has received an award for her contribution to the sport.

She received the honor from the head of the Japan Table Tennis Association in a ceremony on Saturday.

Fukuhara said she is grateful that people continued to support her throughout her 26-year career.

She said she will venture into various areas and work hard to make a greater contribution to table tennis and other sports.

Fukuhara took up table tennis when she was three years old. She dominated national championships for young athletes, earning the nickname the "table tennis whiz."

Fukuhara competed in four straight Summer Olympics, starting at the 2004 Athens Games.

She clinched the silver medal in the team event at the 2012 London Olympics. That's the first Olympic podium finish in the history of Japanese table tennis.

She also claimed the bronze medal in the team category at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

Fukuhara also played in the Chinese league.

She is married to Taiwanese table tennis player Chiang Hung-chieh. She is pregnant with their second baby.

Fukuhara announced her retirement from competitive table tennis last October.