Men's table tennis trio take silver
By Jung Min-ho
South Korea grabbed the silver medal in the men’s team table tennis Thursday (KST), falling short of beating the sport’s powerhouse China at the ExCel Arena.
“Despite many adversities, the players held up well and devoted themselves to the intense training, which gave them a good result,” Korea team manager Yoo Nam-kyu said. “I had worried about a possibility of even winning bronze. However, they gave me their trust and eventually won an invaluable silver.”
The defending Olympic champions lived up to their No. 1 billing and again showed how far ahead Chinese table tennis is of everyone else. Surrounded by chanting fans waving red flags, Ma Long and men’s singles victor Zhang Jike wrapped up the first two sets with victories over 30-year-old Ryu Seung-min and 32-year-old Joo Sae-hyuk. Men’s singles silver medalist Wang Hao and Zhang then sealed the win by defeating 35-year-old Oh Sang-eun and Ryu in the third match to earn the nation’s 24th gold medal out of a possible 27 since the sport made its Olympic debut at the 1988 Seoul Games.
Ryu, the 2004 Athens gold medalist in the men’s singles, was unable to keep up with Ma’s speed and lost the opening match 3-1 (11-6, 11-6, 6-11, 11-4). Joo got off to a good start with solid defense to raise hopes of leveling the match but Zhang soon took control and beat him 3-1 (11-9, 5-11, 11-6, 11-8). China then took the third match 3-0 (11-4, 11-8, 11-6), with an obvious gap between the Koreans and their Chinese counterparts.
For Ryu, the result was a disappointing conclusion to his fourth Olympics since he first competed in 2000. He will retire after London despite his wish to beat China not coming true in his final event.
“I really wanted to beat China,” Ryu said. “But I have no regrets. Everyone on the team did their best and we achieved silver. Now, I would like to help young players win gold medals at Olympics to come."
For China, Thursday’s victory completed a back-to-back sweep of all four table tennis golds at the 2012 Games, doing the same as in Beijing four year ago. For Korea, silver is the country’s only medal in the sport as the women's team lost to Singapore in the bronze medal match Wednesday. None of the Korean players reached podium positions in the individual competitions this time around.
“I thought it would be extremely hard to beat China this time,” Yoo said. “Our talented youngsters, however, are next only to the Chinese players. So, I think it is possible to beat China next time if they train hard with a clear sense of purpose.”
Germany won the bronze medal after defeating Hong Kong in four matches.