Ma Long wins Chinese derby to edge defending champion
Updated: 2016-08-12 09:34
Ma Long of China eyes the ball during play against Zhang Jike (CHN) of China during Men's Singles Gold Medal of table tennis. Ma Long, China, bt Zhang Jike, China, 4-0. [Photo by Wei Xiaohao/chinadaily.com.cn]
RIO DE JANEIRO - China's Ma Long overwhelmed his teammate and defending champion Zhang Jike with a 4-0 win to seize gold in the men's table tennis singles final on Thursday, with Japan's Jun Mizutani claiming the bronze.
Ma, the world number one, capitalised on Zhang's mistakes and misses to triumph 14-12, 11-5, 11-4 and 11-4 after thrilling the cheering fans with a high-speed game of rapid-fire spins and quick reflexes.
Ma shaped his fingers into a love-heart that he signalled to the spectators as he celebrated his victory. He then held up a Chinese flag with Zhang to reflect the country's continued domination in the game.
The Olympic medal was the only table tennis accolade that has eluded Ma, who failed to make the Chinese team in London four years ago due to a series of unexpected losses during the qualifiers, despite being world number one at the time.
Mizutani clinched bronze by beating Belarusian Vladimir Samsonov, giving the country its first ever medal in the table tennis men's singles and its second medal ever in the sport. (Reporting by Brenda Goh; Editing by Mark Lamport-Stokes)