Saturday, August 4, 2012

London 2012 Olympic Game Table Tennis: Li Wins women's Singles Gold for China

Li Xiaoxia - Sports Jagat
Li Xiaoxia extended China's domination in women's table tennis by clinching the Olympic gold medal with a victory over teammate Ding Ning in Wednesday's singles final.

China has won every women's singles gold medal in table tennis since the game was introduced at the Olympics in 1988. It has won 21 of 25 gold medals in the sport and is expected to sweep all four gold medals in London in singles and team play.

Feng Tianwei of Singapore defeated Kasumi Ishikawa of Japan for the bronze.

Li represents the new generation, a 24-year-old who follows in a long line of Olympic women gold-medal winners in what is China's national pastime. She follows sports icons Zhang Yining, who took four gold medals in the last two Olympics. Wang Nan won hers in three Olympics — 2000, 2004 and 2008. And Deng Yaping started the string with four in 1992 and 1996.

Li has been known in China as Ms. No. 2, partly for matches she has lost to Ding including the final in last year's world championship. That's no more, though she still has a losing record against Ding in official matches. In 11, she has won 5. But this one counted at least double, or triple — maybe 10 times — in significance.
Li_Xiaoxia - Sports Jagat
The Chinese women and men swept all three medals four years ago in Beijing. Trying to limit China's dominance, the governing body of the sport — the ITTF — limited singles entries this time to two per nation.

That helped Feng take bronze for Singapore. Feng was born in China, but was recruited to play for Singapore when she realized she had no chance of representing her native China.

The final was a match of momentum: Li had it from the start and never lost it, playing close to the table and playing aggressively.

It also got testy. In the fourth game, Ding picked up a red card and a one-point penalty from Italian referee Paola Bongelli for using her towel during a non-break period. She also picked up several other penalties in the match for failing to toss the ball high enough on the serve.

The 22-year-old Ding — the No. 1-ranked player in the game — was the favorite going in, but could never wrest the momentum from Li.


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