China sweeps medals in table tennis

Beijing, Aug 23: China's Zhang Yining defended her Olympic title in table tennis with an elegant win over compatriot Wang Nan in the women's singles final on Friday.

China also sealed their first Olympic medal sweep in women's table tennis since 1988, with Guo Yue's win in the bronze match against Singapore's Li Jia Wei. It was Wang's first loss at these Olympics, where China has completely dominated the national sport in front of boisterous crowds. No Chinese player, male or female, has yet lost a match to an opponent from another country.

For the gold, fans were treated to a contest between Wang, 2000 Olympic champion and former world number one, and Zhang, 2004 Olympic champion and reigning world number one.

Zhang, who has been at the top of her game for more than a year, wore down Wang as the match progressed, ranging far from the table to retrieve balls and spraying low drives at sharp angles.

Zhang won the match, 8-11 13-11 11-8 11-8 and 11-3, to clinch the gold.

Wang, the "big sister" of Chinese table tennis in her third Olympics, said earlier that she would retire after the Beijing Games. The 29-year-old's play has slipped in recent years and she had to fight her way on the Olympic team through qualifiers.

Number one in the world since January 2002, apart from a single month, Zhang is the most successful player, male or female, in the history of the International Table Tennis Federation Pro Tour.

China has had a stranglehold on the women's table tennis gold, winning it every time since the sport debuted at the Summer Games two decades ago.

Story first published: Saturday, August 23, 2008, 15:47 [IST]
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