Gold for China, Fan Zhendong, Ma Long, Xu Xin (Photo: Rémy Gros)
Top seeds China, favourites for gold, won the men’s team title in the Metropolitan Gymnasium on Friday 6th August and thus brought proceedings to a close in the table tennis events at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games; silver finished in German hands, Japan claimed bronze.
In the final, China recorded a 3-0 win against Germany, the no.2 seeds; earlier in the bronze medal contest, Japan, the no.3 seeds, had secured a 3-1 success in opposition to Korea Republic, the no.4 seeds.
The gold medal at stake; Xu Xin and Ma Long, the 2011 World champions, gave China the perfect start; they beat Timo Boll and Patrick Franziska in straight games (11-7, 11-3, 11-9).
Fan Zhendong extended the advantage, but he was tested by Dimitrij Ovtcharov, he was required to recover from a two games to one deficit to claim victory (3-11, 11-6, 9-11, 11-5, 11-3).
Ever closer to the goal, Ma Long resisted a spirited performance by Timo Boll to end matters (11-5, 11-9, 11-13, 11-7) and seal gold.
Success for China, earlier it had been the same for Japan, Jun Mizutani very much the mainstay of the victory.
Partnering Koki Niwa, two left handers in action, the duo accounted for Jeoung Youngsik and Lee Sangsu in the opening contest (11-9, 8-11, 15-13, 11-5).
It was a bonus win, as a partnership Jun Mizutani and Koki Niwa had no great record of prior success, Jeoung Youngsik and Lee Sangsu had six ITTF World Tour men’s doubles titles to their credit.
Later and somewhat appropriately when considering the years of unstinting service, it was Jun Mizutani who concluded matters.
After Tomokazu Harimoto had beaten Jang Woojin (11-7, 8-11, 12-10, 11-7) and Koki Niwa had experienced defeat at the hands of Jeoung Youngsik (11-3, 11-8, 11-7), Jun Mizutani accounted for Jang Woojin (14-12, 11-9, 11-9) to seal bronze.
Thus, since the team events were introduced in Beijing in 2008, China has always reserved the top step of the podium, for Germany they maintained their record of always winning a medal, silver had been the colour in Beijing, bronze on both London and Rio de Janeiro.
Likewise, for Korea Republic, again they challenged for a medal, as in Rio de Janeiro it was fourth place, having in Beijing won bronze and London, silver.
Meanwhile for Japan, it was one step lower than in Rio de Janeiro, but they maintained the status as global power; earlier it had been in fifth position in Beijing, a similar finish in London. In England’s capital city, they departed at the quarter-final stage.
Repeat success but there was a first.
It was the first time in a men’s table tennis team event at an Olympic Games when every fixture was won by the higher seeded outfit; no surprises but, nevertheless, the action was enthralling.