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ITTF (International Table Tennis Federation)

‘Gareth Bale’s younger brother’ scores for Hong Kong: Table tennis duo Wong Chun-ting and Ho Kwan-kit storm to Open doubles gold

Local stars raise the roof at Queen Elizabeth Stadium to reign victorious after watching Saturday night’s Champions League final

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 27 May, 2018, 5:44pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 27 May, 2018, 11:20pm

Real Madrid hero Gareth Bale may have stolen the show at Saturday night’s Champions League final, but Hong Kong table tennis has a Bale of its own in Wong Chun-ting.

“Do I not look like him?” joked world number seven Wong, who with Ho Kwan-kit lifted the Seamaster 2018 ITTF World Tour Hang Seng Hong Kong Open men’s doubles trophy at a raucous Queen Elizabeth Stadium on Sunday.

“All I need to do is let these sideburns grow and I’m a Hong Kong Bale.”

“His older brother Bale scored twice yesterday and now he’s won, too” said promising 24-year-old Ho.

The pair brushed aside Japan’s Morizono Masataka and Oshima Yuya 3-0 (11-6, 11-3, 11-9) to secure Hong Kong’s only silverware of the inaugural tournament. This was an especially sweet victory for the home boys as they lost agonisingly to the Japanese duo at last year’s ITTF World Tour Grand Finals, losing out on gold.

And then there were none: Hong Kong top seed Wong Chun-ting stopped in the last 16 by fierce Swedish fightback

“I didn’t think we’d win 3-0 as our opponents have a formidable partnership and have won many awards in the past,” said the left-handed Ho, who conceded he stayed up to watch the first half of Real Madrid v Liverpool to ease the nerves. “We started well but never thought about it – just played point by point – and it was nice to get a comfortable win.

“Last time we were maybe feeling a bit tired from the busy match schedule … this time we showed our clinical abilities,” Ho added.

“We prepared well and deliberately tried to expose their playing style while highlighting our own,” said Wong, who lost to Sweden’s Jon Persson in the men’s singles last 32 on Friday.

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“We had the chance to win against them last time but we lacked the composure – today’s performance was quite satisfying.”

For the city’s strongest singles player, Wong, everything has come full circle after competing at the Hong Kong Junior Open almost a decade ago.

“Of course [it’s extra special to win in Hong Kong],” he said. “I was at the junior Open about nine years ago and it was the first time and I just got in as an 18-year-old – I got silver after losing to a Chinese opponent. This tournament is also its first so winning this time is great. It’s a good start and at every Hong Kong Open from now on we can tell people that a Hong Kong team won its first tournament.”

The pair look to take their good doubles form to Shenzhen later this week.

In the women’s doubles final, China’s Chen Xingtong and Sun Yingsha defeated fellow compatriots Chen Ke and Wang Manyu 3-0 (11-9, 11-8, 11-9).

17-year-old prodigy Sun, who defeated Hong Kong’s Doo Hoi-kem in an outrageous 11-game win streak last year, had some extra motivation stepping up to the table.

“Our performance today wasn’t bad and I’m very happy we managed to win,” said the world number 14. “Today is also my partner’s birthday – I want to dedicate this game to her.”

In the women’s singles final, Wang Manyu put aside her earlier doubles defeat to defeat Chen Xingtong 4-2 (12-10, 11-8, 3-11, 11-6, 4-11, 11-9).

In the men’s singles final, Japan’s Yoshimura Kazuhiro defeated South Korean Cho Seung-min

4-1 (11-5, 5-11, 11-8, 11-8, 11-7) to collect US$17,700 prize money.

“It’s my first time playing in Hong Kong, it’s a very lucky place for me,” said Kazuhiro.

Cho was disappointed he couldn’t pull it off and said: “Today is my birthday, I thought winning gold would be a birthday present, I’m a bit sad but never mind.”