Olympic champion stumbles but China retains title
China completed the Men’s and Women’s golden double in impressive fashion at the Times Property 2013 World Team Classic in Guangzhou. The men’s team, represented by the world ‘s top three ranked men MA Long, XU Xin and ZHANG Jike,
China completed the Men’s and Women’s golden double in impressive fashion at the Times Property 2013 World Team Classic in Guangzhou. The men’s team, represented by the world ‘s top three ranked men MA Long, XU Xin and ZHANG Jike, were made to work hard for their gold by a talented Chinese Taipei trio of CHEN Chien-An, CHUANG Chih-Yuan and CHIANG Hung-Chieh.
Player of the day was 20 year old former World Junior Champion CHEN Chien-An; not selected for the Chinese Taipei Olympic Team last year, sensationally he beat Olympic champion ZHANG Jike in five games pulsating contest.
“I didn’t underestimate my opponent” stated ZHANG Jike. “I felt very heavy and slow in this match and my form has been a bit unstable lately; this does not take anything away from CHEN Chien-An, he was fantastic.”
The victory was as close as Chinese Taipei came. World no. 1, the tournament’s most valuable player, MA Long, combined with XU Xin to secure doubles success against CHEN Chien-An and CHIANG Hung-Chieh, before beating the latter to ensure that it was a golden afternoon for the large crowd at Tianhe Gymnasium.
“It is a good sign for the health of world table tennis that we had a new opponent in the final”, stated Chinese Head Coach LIU Guoliang. “They gave us a tough test and exposed some weaknesses in our team, which we will have to fix before the World Championships in six weeks’ time.”
The women’s final was the same as at the London 2012 Olympic Games, with the young Japanese team standing between China and the spot on the top of the podium.
As was the case in London, China prevailed. The trio of DING Ning, LI Xiaoxia and WU Yang proved too good for the Japanese team, represented by Ai FUKUHARA, Kasumi ISHIKAWA and Sayaka HIRANO. They recorded a comprehensive three-nil victory.
The Olympic Champion, LI Xiaoxia, who was named the women’s most valuable player, stated at the press conference: “I would like to congratulate Japan for their vast improvement over the years; this has forced me and my team to improve. I was very nervous before the game; I am glad I was able to record this important victory.”
LIU Guoliang, Chinese Head Coach echoed LI Xiaoxia’s comments by saying: “Japan is one of the table tennis powerhouses, so we had to prepare very well to beat them. We expect an even tougher test next year where we will face them on their own turf at the 2014 World Table Tennis Team Championships in Tokyo.”
A defiant Ai FUKUHARA drew positives from the defeat: “We are getting better and we will be even better on our own tables, in front of our own crowd next year and hopefully we can turn our silver into gold.”
Undoubtedly, the 2013 edition will stay forever in people minds for the incredible run of Egypt to reach the semi-finals and Brazil and Australia reaching the quarter-finals. The upsets ensured that there were five continents represented in the last eight for the first time in the tournament’s history and demonstrated that the ITTF’s extensive development work in these regions is reaping huge benefits.
Attention now turns to Paris, France for the Liebherr 2013 World Table Tennis Championships to be held from Monday 13th to Monday 20th May 2013.