TOKYO (AP) – For the fourth consecutive Olympics, the Chinese won gold and silver in table tennis singles.
Ma Long defended his Olympic title on Friday by beating his teammate and highest ranked player Fan Zhendong 11-4, 10-12, 11-8, 11-9, 3-11, 11-7.
The match was filled with extraordinary rallies that often grew in intensity as the pair pulled off powerful, spinning smashes, rushing for successful returns time and time again. A winning point was often capped by a victory cry and a punch.
Between matches, Ma would talk to herself, drinking water and wiping the sweat from her face.
After winning the match, Ma made a heart shape with her arms. He and Fan then hoisted the Chinese flag together.
Earlier, German veteran Dimitrij Ovtcharov won his second bronze medal – he also finished third at the London 2012 Games – by beating 19-year-old Taiwanese Lin Yun Ju.
On Thursday, Chen Meng beat her Chinese teammate Sun Yingsha to win gold in the women’s singles. Chinese women have won all gold medals in singles at the Olympics.
The Tokyo Games, while once again highlighting Chinese supremacy in singles, marked a disappointment compared to the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, when China won all four gold medals in the sport. In a massive victory for the host nation, Japan beat China for gold in mixed doubles.
Chinese singles players have proven to be so strong that the Olympic rules – thinking of China – were changed ahead of the Rio Games, so that each country can now only send two singles players. This allows other nations to compete for the bronze medal.
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