See you in Tokyo: beaten Japanese team fires early warning to repeat Olympic champions China
China maintains its grip on Olympic table tennis with a resounding victory over rivals Japan in the final
China has again proven to the world that it is near invincible in table tennis, defeating Japan in the men’s team finals to secure its third Olympic team gold in a row.
But Japan was quick to warn China about getting revenge in four years, announcing that the possibility of defeating the Chinese players at the Tokyo Olympics “will not be just a dream”.
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The Chinese players won 3-1 to take gold, losing only in the singles when Xu Xin went up against Jun Mizutani. World No 1 Ma Long lived up to expectations, winning two singles matches against Koki Niwa and Maharu Yoshimura.
The game was closely watched by people in China not only because of the historical tensions between the two countries, but because an expected gold would boost the morale of China’s underperforming Olympians.
China now ranks third in the medal tally after being overtaken by Great Britain earlier this week. USA remains top of the table and looks set to remain at the top as the Games draw to a close.
“I knew that if we won the doubles match, we would definitely take gold,” Ma said after the game.
Xu, the world’s No 3 player, cautioned that the Japanese players could indeed stage a comeback at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
“The Japanese players are very strong players ... they have a huge chance when the next Olympics takes place in Tokyo,” he said.
Ma won the opening rubber for China. Xu was defeated when he went head-to-head with Mizutani, before Zhang and Xu won the doubles and Ma won the remaining singles rubber as China sealed victory.
Coach Liu Guoshen was so ecstatic with the win he kissed Ma.
“As you have all seen, it was a very difficult win. Ma Long did not panic and he was just fantastic,” he said, praising the Japanese players for their improvements.
China has dominated the table tennis events in Rio, taking gold in each competition – men’s singles, men’s team, women’s singles and women’s team. They also took silver in both the men’s singles and the women’s singles.
Japan’s Mizutani said it is more “valuable” to have the opportunity to take on China in Rio, before his thoughts turned to revenge in four years.
“I look forward to Tokyo 2020 and the notion of beating the China team will not be just a dream,” he warned.
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