RIO DE JANEIRO: China maintained their total grip on Olympic table tennis stretching back to the 2000 Games as their men’s team beat Japan to win gold in Rio on Wednesday.
China may be smarting at a lower than expected medal haul in Rio but their table tennis players have proved a cast-iron source for gold.
Ma Long, Zhang Jike and Xu Xin saw off Japanese trio Koki Niwa, Jun Mizutani and Maharu Yoshimura 3-1 to claim this fourth and final title of Rio 2016.
The sport’s superpower has now won every title since Sydney, and 28 golds from the 32 available since table tennis first appeared at an Olympics in Seoul in 1988.
This latest success pushed China up to 19 golds overall at Rio 2016, level with Great Britain, with the United States leading the way on 29.
Fresh from his men’s singles win last week, world number one Ma swept aside Niwa 3-0 in the opener.
Mizutani then set about drawing Japan back level, the men’s singles’ bronze medallist racing to a two sets to love lead over Xu.
But before the Japanese fans could get too excited world number three Xu took the next two sets to level, but Mizutani closed out to leave the best of five match final all square at 1-1.
Xu and Zhang, who lost the men’s singles crown to Ma, teamed up to win the doubles and put China back on top.
Ma then returned to the table for the following singles against 20th in the world Yoshimura, the gulf in rankings all too evident as the best player on the planet took just 21 minutes to win in straight sets Yoshimura winning a grand total of nine points.
Germany took the men’s team bronze medal.