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Cover Stories Series 2012> Game On> News
UPDATED: August 9, 2012
China Wins Men's Table Tennis Team Gold

China won the men's table tennis team final against South Korea on Wednesday, making a clean sweep of gold medals for the second consecutive Olympics.

It was the 24th gold medal that China won at the Olympic table tennis competition since the sport was introduced at the 1988 Seoul Games.

Finishing second, South Korea won their first silver medal in a non-individual men's event after winning five previous bronze medals.

Ma Long, world number two, fought off a strong challenge from South Korea's Ryu Seung-Min, the Athens singles champion, and won the opening match 3-1 (11-6, 11-6, 6-11, 11-4).

Zhang Jike, the London Olympic singles gold medalist, got a slow start in the following match against South Korea's Joo Sae-Hyuk. He dropped one game, but fought back quickly and won the match 3-1 (11-9, 5-11, 11-6, 11-8).

South Korean pair Oh Sang-Eun and Ryu fought gallantly in the doubles, but they failed to keep their match alive, losing 3-0 (11-4, 11-8, 11-6) to China's Zhang and Wang Hao, the London singles silver medalist.

Liu Guoliang, who has been at the helm of China's men's table tennis team for nearly 10 years, said the London Games has been the most exhausting experience because there has been more pressure than before.

The pressure came from the lack of experienced players and other changes the International Table Tennis Federation has made to the rules, such as the singles-first competition format and the reduce of players in the singles.

Both Zhang, 24, and Ma, 23, were competing in the Olympics for the first time. The only veteran in the Chinese men's team is 28-year-old Wang, who had participated in the Athens 2002 and Beijing 2008.

"We have brought through a new generation of players and balanced this with Wang. Today we went out fast and hard to ensure we could win. By bringing through new players each time we can stay at the top," Liu said.

Liu said Zhang and Ma have grown into the leading figures of China's new generation of players. "I hope the two could join hands and push China's men's table tennis to a new level."

The players and coaches of China and South Korea hugged each other after the match. All six players and two coaches, with arms around each other, posed for the photographer.

Yoo Nam-Kyu, South Korean coach, said winning the silver medal is out of his expectation since his players, all in their 30s, have suffered from injuries and could not have enough training.

"The players were very exhausted. It would have been impossible for us to win even the bronze medal. But they fought hard and played well. I am so proud of them," Yoo said.

Germany won the bronze medal after beating their Hong Kong rivals in four matches.

Dimitrij Ovtcharov, who also won the bronze medal in singles in London, said the team bronze medal was the maximum for Germany since it had to play China in the semifinal. The medal will for sure boost the confidence of his team and help promote the sport in Germany.

(Xinhua News Agency August 8, 2012)

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