Gold for Ding Ning and all smiles
Photo By: An Sung Ho
2012 Olympic Games
Two gold medals already secured, China captured a third on the afternoon of Tuesday 7th August by securing the Women’s Team title at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
The white hot favourites to reserve the top step of the medal podium the trio of Ding Ning, Li Xiaoxia and Guo Yue duly delivered.
They were under pressure, they were expected to succeed and they did not disappoint their hundreds of supporters massed in the tiered seating of the ExCeL Arena.
It was the silver medal for Japan but it was a silver medal win honour, the first ever for Japan in the table tennis events at an Olympic Games.
The outfit comprising Ai Fukuhara, Kasumi Ishikawa and Sayaka Hirano responded to the challenge; they gave their best no-one could ask for more.
In the opening contest, Li Xiaoxia faced Ai Fukuhara; the consistent top spin play of the newly crowned Olympic Women’s Singles champion proved too much for the Japanese star.
Consistent heavy top spin play, directed regularly towards the backhand, reaped dividends.
Ai Fukuhara captured the second game, the fast attacks combined with some risks brought success but that only galvanized Li Xiaoxia to greater efforts; her ability to impart consistent heavy top spin strokes early in the rally brought success.
Li Xiaoxia won 11-6, 9-11, 11-2, 11-5.
A spirited effort by Ai Fukuhara and in the second match on court it was the same from Kasumi Ishikawa; in the battle of the left handers she caused Ding Ning problems in the second game; her smooth forehand top spin, executed at the peak of the bounce proved most effective.
Ding Ning to her credit responded; a straight games win was recorded 11-4, 12-10. 11-4.
Firmly in the driving seat and eyeing gold, coach Shi Zhihao took no chances; he sent out Li Xiaoxia to partner Guo Yue in the doubles.
It was the obvious choice; they were the reigning World champions having won in Yokohama in 2009 and Rotterdam in 2011.
Furthermore, you had to go back in history almost four years to find their last defeat, September 2008 in the final of the Panasonic China Open when beaten by Hong Kong’s Jiang Huajun and Tie Yana, was their last reverse.
Kasumi Ishikawa and Sayaka Hirano gave their best; they never flinched from the challenge and deservedly they secured the third game for their spirited efforts.
However, Guo Yue and Li Xiaoxia stamped their authority on proceedings; the fourth game was secured a gold was in Chinese hands.
The mission had been accomplished and all mobbed coach, Shi Zhihao; he was the man who had suffered agaonies when China had been beaten by Singapore in the Women’s final at the LIEBHERR World Team Championships in Moscow in 2010.
Two years later in 2012, he had delivered both the World Championships and Olympic Games titles; the faith shown by the Chinese Table Tennis Association had been justified.
Also, it was good to see the beaming smile of Ding Ning return; after the heartbreak of losing to Li Xiaoxia earlier in the proceedings in the Women’s Singles final, the beaming face which we associate with Ding Ning was shining brightly.
On the medal rostrum it was smiles all round.
Most Satisfactory Conclusion
The goal for Singapore was to repeat the success of four years earlier in Beijing; they had to settle for bronze as opposed to the silver secured in Beijing but it was a medal and that was the important point.
Meanwhile for Japan it was a milestone; the three ladies had secured Japan’s first ever Olympic table tennis medal and it was silver.
It was very much mission achieved and that was the situation for China; gold had been secured and gold in a most emphatic manner.
At the London 2012 Olympic Games, the Chinese female players were dominant. They won every medal possible; simply magnificent; in a class of their own, their very own.
All smiles from the medallists in the Women’s Team event at the London 2012 Olympic Games
Photo by An Sung Ho