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July 30, 2021

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Paddler Chen tops Sun for title

China’s Chen Meng defeated compatriot Sun Yingsha 4-2 to win women’s singles Olympic table tennis gold yesterday.

World No. 1 Chen overcame her opponent 9-11, 11-6, 11-4, 5-11, 11-4, 11-9 as China continued its incredible run of winning every women’s singles gold medal in Olympic history.

Chen fired herself up with a mighty yell each time she scored, while the 20-year-old Sun in contrast silently gave a reserved fist pump as she tried to get back into the contest.

Chen and Sun embraced at the end and then unfurled a large Chinese flag.

Japan’s Mima Ito won the bronze medal after beating Singapore’s Yu Mengyu 4-1, earning Japan’s first medal ever in Olympic women’s singles, after she secured gold in the mixed doubles.

In the men’s singles, China’s Fan Zhendong won 4-3 against Chinese Taipei’s Lin Yun Ju, while defending champion Ma Long beat Germany’s Dimitrij Ovtcharov by the same score to reach today’s final.

The results mean that China provided all four finalists in the showpiece matches at the Tokyo Games in the women’s and men’s singles events as it has at every Games since 2008.

China has 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.

Earlier, world No. 3 Sun had overwhelmed Ito in the semifinals with an 11-3, 11-9, 11-6, 11-4 victory, while Chen had beaten Yu 11-6, 11-8, 11-7, 11-6.

“I’ve always looked forward to fighting against Ito, who’s the same age as me,” Sun told reporters. “Whether I win or lose, there’s a lot of joy every time I face her.”

China swept all four table tennis events at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games. That was also the third straight Olympics where Chinese men have taken both gold and silver.

A rule change ahead of the Rio Games widely seen as aimed at China meant that each country can now only send two players for singles, opening up the bronze medal for other nations.

China’s table tennis team is so strong that Liu Shiwen, the women’s world champion, didn’t even make the singles’ team and is only playing team events.


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