Zhang Jike, the missed record
On the late afternoon of Thursday 2nd August, in the splendours of the ExCeL Arena, Zhang Jike underlined his potential as a hurdler.
Celebrating his win in the men’s singles event at the London 2012 Olympic Games, he leapt the surrounds and then knelt to kiss the top step of the medal podium; his spontaneous actions thrilled the crowd and delighted the media.
Reporters and commentators were quick to report on the occasion but there was a landmark that all missed, and I wonder if Zhang Jike realized?
He became the first player to hold, at the same time, the three most prestigious titles the sport of table tennis has to offer: World champion, Men’s World Cup winner, Olympic Games gold medallist.
Equally, there was a strange distinction for his colleague Wang Hao; to the present day, he possesses the record of being the only player to hold the silver medal in all three events at the same time. In all three finals, he was beaten by Zhang Jike.
Eventually when Ma Long won at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, he matched the record of Zhang Jike, notably beating his colleague, in the final. Ma Long is the only other player to hold all three titles at the same time, but no-one can match Wang Hao!
In Rotterdam at the GAC 2011 World Championships staged from Sunday 8th to Sunday 15th May, the quest began:
The next stop was Paris for the Liebherr 2011 Men’s World Cup, held from Friday 11th to Sunday 13th November; in the French capital city Zhang Jike gained revenge, the previous year in Magdeburg, he had lost to Wang Hao in the final (8-11, 11-8, 12-10, 11-9, 11-9).
Two world titles clinched in 2011, at the London Olympic Games, play commencing on Saturday 28th July, he added to the collection; following his men’s singles success, he partnered Ma Long and Wang Hao to men’s team gold.
Reasons to celebrate and there is one more for Zhang Jike which some may have missed; today, Tuesday 16th February is his 33rd birthday!
Editor: Ian Marshall