TOKYO, Oct. 21 (Xinhua) -- Japanese table tennis star Ai Fukuhara announced on Sunday that she is retiring from competition.
"Recently, I've found the answers within myself that I have been searching for. From the standpoint of an athlete, I'm drawing the line here," she wrote on her blog.
"I first gripped a racket at the age of three years and nine months, turned professional at 10 and began playing for the national team at 11," she wrote, adding that it had been a long journey.
As the Japanese young players are making fast progress, she said she could now retire and hoped to continue to make contribution to table tennis and the sports communities.
The 29-year-old Fukuhara was regarded as a "child prodigy" in table tennis in Japan. She went to China for training at a very young age and can speak fluent Mandarin with a northeastern accent.
The Japanese women's table tennis team led by Fukuhara won the silver at the London Olympics in 2012 and the bronze at the Rio Olympics in 2016.
Fukuhara married a table tennis player from Chinese Taipei in 2016, gave birth to a baby girl last year and has not competed since.