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China’s men complete table tennis title sweep
Reuters
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LONDON: China completed a sweep of all the Olympic table tennis golds Wednesday when their men stormed to victory over South Korea to clinch the team title on the closing day of the London Games tournament.

The heavily favored Chinese defended their 2008 title by beating South Korea 3-0 to pick up the nation’s fourth gold and keep all Olympic titles in Chinese hands for another four years.

“I’m extremely pleased ... I feel so proud that Chinese table tennis has produced the world’s most outstanding achievement,” China’s table tennis and badminton chief Liu Fengyan told Reuters at the ExCel Arena venue.

China swept all four titles at Beijing, and some had wondered whether they could maintain the intensity without the home support at the London Games.

However, a chanting crowd festooned with the red flags of China was in full voice as Ma Long and men’s singles champion Zhang Jike won their respective singles matches over Ryu Seungmin and Joo Saehyuk to give the hosts a 2-0 lead.

Wang Hao, who won silver in the men’s singles, and Zhang then secured the gold by trouncing Oh Sangeun and Ryu in three sets to clinch the best of five matches final and spark delirious cheering from Chinese fans.

Wang and Zhang embraced and acknowledged roaring fans with pumping fists and a military-style salute before strolling a half-lap of honor around the venue with Ma and their coach.

Ma, who defeated South Korea’s Ryu in four sets in the first team rubber, insisted other competing nations still had a chance to chip away at China’s dominance. “There are opportunities. Perhaps they can look to our China team as an example,” he said.

China also won two silver medals to clinch six out of the 12 medals on offer and would have likely won more had the sport’s federation not limited nations to bringing two players in the men’s and women’s singles.

“We hope that all countries can continue to improve and push harder and catch up with China,” Liu told Reuters.

“Our China was very backward in the 1950s and 1960s, then we became strong and surpassed the others. So anything can happen.

“So we are helping many countries, and backward countries, improve,” he said. “Every year we’re helping send out coaches to other countries, all with the goal of helping them improve.

“Because a world dominated by China is not very interesting.”

South Korea’s seasoned men’s team, spearheaded by 35-year-old Oh, were pleased to win a silver in their last Olympics after taking bronze at Beijing.

“This medal is especially heavier than the last Olympics so it feels like a real medal now,” said Oh. “Even though I’m gutted to get the silver medal, it’s still good and I’m proud of myself.”

Beijing silver medalists Germany took bronze by defeating Hong Kong 3-1 earlier on Wednesday, with European champion Timo Boll securing the decisive singles victory in four sets over Jiang Tianyi.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on August 09, 2012, on page 14.
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