Olympic Games

One step short for Emmanuel Lebesson and Yuan Jia Nan

Photo: Rémy Gros ITTF

Fourth place, just one step short of a medal, such was the outcome for the French pairing of Emmanuel LEBESSON and YUAN Jia Nan in the mixed doubles event at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games on the evening of Monday . In the bronze medal contest, the no.8 seeds, they were beaten by Chinese Taipei’s LIN Yun-Ju and CHENG I-Ching, the no.3 seeds (11-8, 11-7, 11-8, 11-5).

Gold finished in the hands of the host nation’s Jun MIZUTANI and Mima ITO. The no.2 seeds, they recovered from a two games to nil deficit to beat China’s XU Xin and LIU Shiwen the top seeds and hot favourites (5-11, 7-11, 11-8, 11-9, 11-9, 6-11, 11-6). Sensationally in the seventh game the Japanese duo raced into an 8-0 lead.

It is the first ever gold medal won by Japan in the table tennis events at an Olympic Games.

Disappointment for Europe but there was notable success, Russia’s Kirill SKACHKOV setting tone. In the second round of the men’s singles event, he upset the odds; The no.37 seed, he accounted for Kanak Jha of the United States, the no.21 seed (11-9, 9-11, 11-9, 0-11, 11-7, 11-4).

Good form from Kirill SKACHKOV, it was the same from Slovenia’s Bojan TOKIC. The no.40 seed, now 40 years old, he raised the eyebrows. He overcame Croatia’s 25 years of age Tomislav PUCAR the no.23 seed, (11-9, 11-8, 11-9, 12-10).

Progress for Kirill SKACHKOV and Bojan TOKIC, likewise Slovakia’s WANG Yang and Jonathan GROTH progressed but there was no such success for Portugal’s Tiago APOLONIA or Ukraine’s KOU Lei. Both bid farewell in round two. Paul DRINKHALL the no.36 seed, he lost to Korea Republic’s JANG Woojin, the no.9 seed (7-11, 12-10, 11-8, 11-8, 11-7).

Meanwhile, in the women’s singles event, Austria’s Liu Jia, the no.55 seed, upset the seeding. She accounted for Russia’s Polina Mikhailova, the no.27 seed (8-11, 7-11, 11-8, 11-5, 11-6, 8-11, 11-5).

Alas for Europe, Poland’s LI Qian, the no.28 seed, lost to Australia’s JIAN Fang Lay, the no.58 seed (11-7, 11-6, 5-11, 12-10, 11-4, 11-4), Slovakia’s Barbora BALAZOVA, the no.31 seed, was beaten by LIU Juan of the United States, the no.68 seed (11-9, 11-6, 11-9, 11-7).

Meanwhile, Canada’s ZHANG Mo, the no.21 seed, caused the old continent more heartache. She overcame Germany’s Petrissa SOLJA, the no.11 seed (11-7, 11-5, 9-11, 11-6, 6-11, 8-11, 11-3). Similarly, Thailand’s SUTHASINI Sawettabut, the no.22 seed, ousted Romania’s Elizabeta SAMARA the no.15 seed (11-7, 11-6, 4-11, 11-8, 11-2), the 2015 European champion.

Also in round three, China’s CHEN Meng, the top seed, made a most emphatic start to her campaign, she beat Switzerland’s Rachel MORET the no.48 seed, in straight games (11-3, 11-6, 11-2, 11-7).

Plays continues in both the men’s singles and women’s singles events on Tuesday 27th July; at the end of the day, the quarter-finalists in both disciplines will be known.