China wins women's title at table tennis worlds

Updated: 2008-03-02 09:56

GUANGZHOU -- China on Saturday moved closer to taking a clean sweep of the golds at the world team table tennis championships, after winning the women's title with a 3-1 victory over Singapore.

It was the 17th world title, or the eighth consecutive, for the Chinese women who had not been beaten in the team championships since losing to a unified Korean team in 1991.

China's star-studded women, boasting the world's top five players, viewed the championships in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou as a warm-up for the Beijing Olympics starting in August.

They steamrolled over all before them and lost only two individual matches throughout the whole competition that lasted a week.

"Our players did as well as usual but there are some details to be improved," China's head coach Shi Zhihao said. "I hope people have noticed that a lot of foreign players posed a threat to us."

"Don't expect Chinese players to win every single match, and the charming of sports is uncertainty."

China failed to seize a lead at the beginning of the final against Singapore as reigning world champion Guo Yue trailed all the way to lose to eighth-ranked Li Jia Wei.

In the group play, China's Grand Slam veteran Wang Nan also suffered a shock defeat to a much lower ranked DPR Korean player.

But the 29-year-old veteran displayed extraordinary sangfroid afterwards though she was under pressure competing with teammate Li Xiaoxia for the only remaining berth at the Beijing Olympics.

World number one Zhang Yining, singles winner in Athens, and reigning world champion Guo Yue have qualified for the Games automatically.

Wang's performance culminated in the final when she crushed the highest-ranked non-Chinese paddler Wang Yue Gu of Singapore 11-5, 11-5 and11-4. Li, the veteran's only roadblock to the Olympics, was resting aside.

"To survive in the Chinese team, you must live with pressure," Wang told reporters. "My goal is to take part in the Beijing Olympics and win a gold medal," she said.

Singapore displayed stunning performance with dominant victories over European opponents, finishing much higher compared with the last worlds in Bremen.

Both China's Hong Kong, the runners-up in the last worlds, and Japan were third-place finishers.

Singapore's defeat to China was not beyond the expectation of the city-state's head coach Liu Guodong, who said that there was still a large gap between his team and the world's best players.

"The silver medal boosted our confidence, but we should never overestimate ourselves," he said in a modest tone

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