Gold for Chen Meng, silver for Sun Yingsha and bronze for Mima Ito; exactly as per seeding, such was the order on the medal podium when proceedings concluded in the women’s singles event on Thursday 29th July at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Chen Meng accounted for Chinese national team colleague, Sun Yingsha to arrest the title (9-11, 11-6, 11-6, 5-11, 11-4, 11-9), the success came after Japan’s Mima Ito had secured bronze at the expense of Singapore’s Yu Mengyu, the no.26 seed (6-11, 11-8, 11-7, 11-7, 11-6).
Earlier in the day, Chen Meng had beaten Yu Mengyu (11-6, 11-8, 11-7, 11-6), Sung Yingsha had overcome Mima Ito (11-3, 11-9, 11-6, 11-4).
Once again, the title finished in Chinese hands. Chen Meng follows in the footsteps of Chen Jing (1988), Deng Yaping (1992, 1996), Wang Nan (2000), Zhang Yining (2004, 2008), Li Xiaoxia (2012) and Ding Ning (2016).
Notably, it was the sixth time when the women’s singles final had been an all-Chinese affair; there are only two exceptions. In Atlanta (1996) Deng Yaping beat Chen Jing, originally from China buthad moved her allegiance to Chinese Taipei; later in Athens (2004), Zhang Yining overcame DPR Korea’s Kim Hyang Mi to seal gold.
Defeat in the final for Sun Yingsha but a milestone. She becomes the first female player to win a medal at the Youth Olympic Games and at the Olympic Games. At the Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympic Games, she won women’s singles and mixed team gold partnering Wang Chuqin.
Contests to stretch both physical and mental attributes but nothing matched the tension of earlier in the day at the semi-final stage of the men’s singles event.
Fan Zhendong beat Lin Yun-Ju, the no.5 seed (6-11, 11-9, 14-12, 13-15, 11-9, 9-11, 11-8), Ma Long (CHN), no.2 seed, overcame Germany’s Dimitrij Ovtcharov, no.7 seed (13-11, 11-8, 9-11, 9-11, 11-7, 5-11, 11-9).
Fan Zhendong has now won six of the seven meetings against Lin Yun-Ju; Ma Long has claimedall 19 confrontations in opposition to Dimitrij Ovtcharov but this was the closest of all.
Only on one previous meeting had Ma Long required seven games when facing Dimitrij Ovtcharov; that was their very first encounter in the men’s singles final at the 2009 ITTF World Tour Danish Open in Frederikshavn (13-15, 11-8, 8-11, 11-7, 11-8, 10-12, 11-5).
It is the first time when both men’s singles semi-finals at an Olympic Games have been decided in full distance matches.
The men’s singles bronze medal match is scheduled for 8.00 pm (local time) on Friday 30th July, the gold medal contest one hour later.
Editor: Ian Marshall
Photo Credit: ITTF