TOKYO, July 30 (Reuters) – Olympic and world champion Ma Long exuberantly celebrated his men’s table tennis title at the Tokyo Games on Friday, beating compatriot Fan Zhendong 4-2.
The 32-year-old clinched his fourth gold at his third Olympics winning 11-4 10-12 11-8 11-9 3-11 11-7.
Ma made a heart symbol with his arms by becoming the first male table tennis player in Olympic history to retain his title.
“The match with Fan Zhendong is probably the only match in the world that I could play without pressure,” Ma said, adding that the heart was for her son.
“We still have the team event. So I tell myself to control this joy so as not to let my guard down,” Ma told Reuters.
Ma, who is aiming for another gold in the men’s team event, said he hopes to maintain his level to lead Fan and Xu Xin to another victory.
“I have to keep my thirst to win … I can play. I can persevere,” he said.
As at all Games since 2008, China provided the four singles finalists at Tokyo 2020, with Chen Meng defeating Sun Yingsha to win the women’s title on Thursday. No other country has ever won gold in women’s singles.
In the men’s bronze medal match, Germany’s Dimitrij Ovtcharov struck home against Taiwan’s Lin Yun Ju, saving four match points in Game 6 before winning the deciding seventh.
The 32-year-old won 13-11 9-11 6-11 11-4 4-11 15-13 11-7, winning his fifth Olympic table tennis medal since 2008.
Reporting by Eimi Yamamitsu; Editing by Ken Ferris and John Stonestreet and Christian Radnedge
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