Olympic Games

Dimitrij OVTCHAROV clinched bronze at the 2020 Tokyo

Photo: Rémy Gros ITTF

Dimitrij OVTCHAROV has successfully taken home the bronze medal in Tokyo after beating LIN Yun-Ju in an extraordinary seven-game thriller. He emerged successful in seven games, saving four match points in the sixth prior to securing victory (13-11, 9-11, 6-11, 11-4, 4-11, 15-13, 11-7).

A men’s singles bronze medal secured at the London 2012 Olympic Games in the splendours of the ExCeL Arena; now nine years later at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, on Friday 30th July in the capital city’s Metropolitan Gymnasium, the now 32 year old repeated the feat.

Once again OVTCHAROV beat an adversary from Chinese Taipei to reserve the third step of the podium, only on this occasion it was in a much more dramatic fashion.

In London’s docklands, in a hard fought engagement he had accounted for CHUANG Chih-Yuan (12-10, 9-11, 8-11, 13-11, 11-5, 14-12); in Tokyo, the no.7 seed, he overcame LIN Yun-Ju, the no.5 seed, a contest of high drama.

After the match OVTCHAROV was overwhelmed with the emotions.

“It's been an emotional rollercoaster ride for four days. Days at the Olympics feel like years. Last four days felt like 5 years and everything is in slow motion. I had a such a strong vision at the beginning. I believed I could go all the way, but then all the sudden I was almost out against Hugo. I recovered and I thought, I got another chance...Then the match against MA Long yesterday, when everything broke apart in the last point. I believed firmly in the win against MA Long. Afterwards I said to my father that the defeat was so difficult, I can never play table tennis again. He said: 'Dima, if you win today, everything will look different again.' At that point I was not sure if I could hold the racket again. But he was right.”

OVTCHAROV continued: “ I slept very badly, and scraps of this game kept coming back. Lin is incredibly strong technically, he is on the level of the best Chinese. The match ball that he had in the sixth set, I thought for a fraction, that's it for me now. I had help from above that this ball hit net and went out. Then it was suddenly 9: 3 in the 7th game, then the nervousness came up again. What I managed to do makes me just as happy as I was disappointed yesterday. What a rollercoaster,” said OVTCHAROV.

Asked to compare this experience to one from London five years ago, OVTCHAROV said:

“At that time I went to London with the aim of winning bronze. And nobody thought I would do that back then. I worked a lot on my game, even during the Corona period. I had this belief that this time I would go further than the semi-finals. 2012 the defeat in the semi-finals was forgotten after a second. I already thought of Chuang in the game. The defeat yesterday felt so hard. "

Most impressively, Dimitrij OVTCHAROV has won a medal in every Olympic Games in which he has competed. Additionally, he won men’s team silver in Beijing (2008), men’s team bronze in London (2012) and Rio de Janeiro (2016).

Success for Dimitrij OVTCHAROV, soon after it was success for China’s Ma Long. The no.2 seed, he overcame colleague Fan Zhendong, the top seed (11-4, 10-12, 11-8, 11-9, 3-11, 11-7) to secure gold.

Ma Long now becomes the first player to retain the men’s singles title at an Olympic Games and the first to win on two occasions. He has won every time when he has played; in London in 2012 he only played in the men’s team event.

Play resumes with the men’s team and women’s team events on Sunday 1st August.



Final

Ma Long CHN - Fan Zhendong 4: 2 (4, -10.8.9, -3.7)

Bronze

Dimitrij Ovtcharov - Ma Long CHN 3: 4 (-11, -8,9,9, -7,5, -9)

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