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South Korean took last table tennis gold at Athens
Updated: 2004-08-23 19:57

Wang Hao failed to complete a grand slam in the Athens Olympics for China's table tennis team after after losing to Ryu Seung Min of South Korea 4-2 in the men's table tennis singles final Monday.

The scores for the match were 11-3, 9-11, 11-9,11-9, 13-11 and 11-9.

Ryu denied the powerful Chinese a chance to repeat their feat in Atlanta 1996 and Sydney 2000, when they bagged all four table tennis golds in the Olympic table tennis tournaments.

Earlier, Ma Lin and Chen Qi took the men's doubles gold, Zhang Yining the women's singles gold and Wang Nan/Zhang Yining the women's doubles gold.

"Ryu played a superb match today and he overwhelmed Wang from the very beginning," said Liu Guoliang, coach of the Chinese men's team after the match.

"He played extremely fiercely while Wang appeared a bit conservative and slow," Liu added. "I think this was because he was playing under great pressure."

This was the first Olympic Games for the 21-year-old Wang, now ranked 4th in singles in the world, while the 3rd-ranked Ryu had participated in the Sydney Games.

The 22-year-old Ryu jumped onto his coach Kim Taek Soo and the two embraced in ecstasy. The match was quite close and Ryu conceded his first matchpoint at 10-9 in the fifth game to let Wang win 13-11. But the South Korean converted his second matchpoint in the sixth into victory.

Ryu had never defeated Wang before in their previous encounters.

This was the second men's singles gold for the South Koreans at the Olympic Games in 16 years. Yoo Nam-Kyu won the first in Seoul 1988 when table tennis had its Olympic debut.

South Korea, with a third title for women's doubles at Seoul 1988, is also the second largest winner of table tennis golds at the Olympic Games,only after China, which bagged 16 of the total 20 golds.

In a third-place decider played before the final, China's world No.1 Wang Liqin beat Swedish veteran Jan-Ove Waldner 4-1 to win a singles bronze.

Waldner, already 39, was the only European in the singles last four. He also won the only Olympic table tennis gold for Europe in men's singles at Barcelona 1992.

Wang Liqin bags single's bronze

Sydney Olympics doubles champion Wang Liqin of China pushed aside Swedish veteran Jan-Ove Waldner for a bronze medal in the table tennis event Monday at the Olympic Games.

The 26-year-old Wang, men's double winner in Sydney four years ago, dictated the match despite the first game loss before he beat Waldner, 13 years his senior, 4-1 (10-12, 11-3, 11-8, 11-7, 11-9).

1992 Barcelona Olympics singles champion Waldner looked anxious during the 24-minute match before he surrendered the victory to his Chinese rival with a missed service.

Waldner protested over the camera flashes from the standings when he was down at 0-3 in the third game but the brief interruption failed to affect Wang, who led to take the game 11-8.

"Waldner is an experienced player who would use many tricks during the match, but I got over all of them,"said Wang.

Waldner will be back home without a medal, which was his goal at the Games after he was also shut outside the doubles semi- finals by Michael Maze and Finn Tugwell of Denmark on Thursday.

"It was not my day today. I was a little bit tired but both of us were," he said. "It would be fun to have won the bronze, but life goes on."





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