Chen wins all-Chinese women’s table tennis final
Chen Meng defeated fellow Chinese table tennis player Sun Yingsha in six sets (9-11, 11-6, 11-4, 5-11, 11-4, 11-9) to win the Olympic women’s table tennis gold medal on Thursday.
Nearly seven years the elder of the 20-year-old Sun, Chen has ascended to the top of the table tennis world in her mid-20s but had never competed in the Olympics or won a world championship. She has, though, won several other ITTF events, and she was the runner-up behind Liu Shiwen at the 2019 World Championships.
Sun was named to the Chinese team ahead of Liu and made an impressive run through the tournament, including a straight-set semifinal win against Japanese favorite Ito Mima, who took bronze with a 4-1 win over Singapore’s Yu Mengyu to add to her gold medal in the mixed doubles that interrupted the run of Olympic gold medals China had in all table tennis events from 2008 forward. Liu played in that mixed doubles final against Ito and partner Mizutani Jun.
China maintained its grip on the women’s singles competition, having won the event in every Olympics since the sport was added in 1988.
Chen, Sun and Liu will be teammates in the team event starting Sunday.
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Tokyo 2020 Olympics - Table Tennis - Women’s Singles - Semifinal - Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium - Tokyo, Japan - July 29, 2021. Sun Yingsha of China in action against Mima Ito of Japan REUTERS/Thomas Peter
TOKYO, July 29 (Reuters) - World number one Chen Meng said winning gold was payback for her coach as she won the women’s singles Olympic table tennis final on Thursday, leading China to yet another incredible run of claiming every gold medal in the event in Olympic history.
Chen overcame compatriot Sun Yingsha 9-11 11-6 11-4 5-11 11-4 11-9, firing herself up with a mighty yell each time she scored a point.
Meanwhile the 20-year-old Sun in contrast silently gave a reserved fist pump as she tried to get back into the contest.
“All the coaches were supporting me so much, coach Ma Lin even jumped out of his seat. I felt they were more emotional than me,” said Chen, who rushed to hug Ma the moment she won the final.
“After we (China) lost the mixed doubles gold, the pressure on him was immense. During preparations, I felt like he was more nervous than me. But in this moment, that feeling can subside a bit.”
As she held and smilingly stared at her first Olympic gold, Chen chuckled and said that the medal “feels quite heavy”.
The two players held the national flag together right after the match to commemorate their victory in front of the cameras.
“My next goal is winning the gold for the team event,” Chen said at a post-match press conference.
Japan’s Mima Ito won the bronze medal by beating Singapore’s Yu Mengyu 4-1, earning Japan’s first-ever medal in the Olympic women’s singles, after she secured gold in the mixed doubles.
“Out of a hundred, I’m 99% frustrated. It’s very close to a hundred… I’m happy but full of regrets at the same time,” Ito told reporters.
In the men’s singles, China’s Fan Zhendong beat Taiwan’s Lin Yun Ju 4-3, while defending champion Ma Long overcame Germany’s Dimitrij Ovtcharov by the same score to reach Friday’s final.
The results mean China provided all four finalists in the showpiece matches at the Tokyo Games in the women’s and men’s singles events as they have at every Games since 2008.
China have long been the dominant force in the sport, especially in the women’s singles where the Asian powerhouse has never been beaten to the Olympic title.
While this summer has seen some fierce rivals emerging from Japan, Taiwan, Germany and elsewhere, Chen and Sun said they would still rather compete against Chinese paddlers.
“At the finals, of course I want to fight against my team mate. That way, both the gold and the silver will become China’s,” said Chen.
Earlier on Thursday, world number three Sun had overwhelmed Ito in the semi-finals with an 11-3 11-9 11-6 11-4 victory, while Chen had beaten Yu 11-6 11-8 11-7 11-6.
Reporting by Eimi Yamamitsu; Editing by Shri Navaratnam/Ken Ferris/Toby Davis
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