Olympics-Table tennis-China underscores dominance with near-perfect medal sweep

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TOKYO, Aug 8 (Reuters) – From singles to team events, Chinese table tennis paddlers proved why they are world champions by dominating the Olympic stage with four gold medals in Tokyo.

World No. 1 Chen Meng led the way by keeping China’s perfect record intact of winning all women’s singles gold medals in Olympic history, while Ma Long beat compatriot Fan Zhendong to become the first male table tennis player to retain his singles crown.

Chinese teams also won their fourth straight gold medals in the women’s and men’s Olympic events.

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But it wasn’t all smooth sailing for China, who suffered an ‘unacceptable’ defeat in a mixed doubles tie against Japan that shattered their dream of a fourth straight sweep of all gold medals. Olympic gold in this sport.

Japan’s Jun Mizutani and Mima Ito narrowly beat long-invincible Chinese duo Xu Xin and Liu Shiwen to give the host country its first Olympic gold medal in mixed doubles table tennis. Read more

While China still dominates the sport, accounting for 32 of the 37 gold medals awarded since table tennis was added to the Olympics in 1988, Tokyo 2020 is showing growing competition from Japan and Germany.

“Chinese players are a very high wall for me. But if I can give it my all, I can beat a Chinese opponent,” said 20-year-old Japanese Ito, who won every color of medal in Tokyo.

Germany’s Dimitrij Ovtcharov, who won two medals in Tokyo, was just points away from winning against Ma in men’s singles, while narrowly losing to world number one Fan in a tag team match .

Chinese Table Tennis Association President Liu Guoliang said “competition will only get tougher” at the Paris Games in 2024.

“I hope it will be a clean sweep for China next time around. But players around the world are preparing aggressively to achieve their goals of beating China,” Liu told Reuters.

Chinese and Japanese paddlers will face more challenges on the road, Liu added.

China women’s coach Li Sun, however, says such competition can be healthy for paddlers.

He added that the improving techniques of Japanese athletes had worried him “every day for five years”, but that his players had “grown so fast” because of the rivalry.

“I’m happy to have an opponent like Ito who can push me forward,” said 20-year-old Chinese paddler Sun Yingsha.

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Reporting by Eimi Yamamitsu; Editing by Himani Sarkar

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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