A long, tough selection battle that lasted almost two years ended Sunday for Japan's top table tennis players as the selection process for the Paris Olympics concluded with the national championships.

The Japan Table Tennis Association's new points-based selection process, which aims to ultimately end China's decades-long dominance of the sport, saw players put in high-pressure situations as they looked to earn points from domestic and overseas competitions.

File photo shows Miu Hirano pumping her fist during a match at the national table tennis championships in Tokyo on Jan. 26, 2024. (Kyodo)

The competitions included two national championships and six selection meets. Previously, Olympic members were determined based on world rankings.

Some players reflected on the new process after Tomokazu Harimoto and Shunsuke Togami cemented their places in the men's singles and Hina Hayata and Miu Hirano in the women's singles.

File photo shows Shunsuke Togami during a match at the national table tennis championships in Tokyo on Jan. 26, 2024. (Kyodo)

The process "helped me mature as a person," said Hirano, who won a neck-and-neck race with rival Mima Ito to finish second in the women's rankings.

"It was really hard," Togami said. "But my chance of defeating some of the world's top players is growing. I definitely got stronger compared with two years ago."

The tight selection schedule, however, often made it harder for players to be in top form in international meets, so the new process is expected to be evaluated after the Olympics this summer.

"We want to see positive results in Paris and prove the new selection process wasn't wrong," said the women's team manager Takehiro Watanabe.

At the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, Japan took silver in the women's team event and claimed bronze in the men's team competition. China picked up gold in both events.