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Chinese-born table tennis players dominate Olympic women's singles
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16:46, August 21, 2008

Chinese-born players proved their unquestionable dominance in table tennis, securing all the places in the Olympic women's singles quarterfinals as of Thursday.

China's world number one Zhang Yining, world champion Guo Yue and Grand Slam veteran Wang Nan showed no signs of slowing down after winning a team gold earlier this week, though the 30-year-old veteran Wang admitted that she was a little tired.

The three top-ranked players, along with other five representing Singapore, the United States, the Dominican Republic and Hong Kong of China, all won their matches in the 1/8 round.

Defending gold medalist Zhang beat popular star Ai Fukuhara 11-5, 11-2, 11-5, 9-11, 11-8.

The Beijing native said she felt quite assured of a victory over Fukuhara and all she wanted to do during the match was hurry up and go back home for a rest.

Fukuhara was the only Japanese that reached the last 16 at the Beijing Olympics, but being drawn against Zhang denied her the chance to rewrite her personal best at the Olympic Games.

Veteran Wang was made to sweat for her 11-7, 11-7, 9-11, 11-6, 11-13, 11-5 victory over South Korean chopper Park Mi-young, while Guo had no difficulty at all in brushing aside Li Jiao of the Netherlands 11-2, 11-6, 11-3, 13-11.

"Physically, playing singles is not as easy as playing teams when there was just one match per day," tired Wang said.

"We often play South Koreans in major competitions so we know they are good at chopping. I was prepared for a difficult match, even for a seventh game," she added.

Another South Korean chopper, Kim Kyung-ah, who won a singles bronze in Athens, was knocked out by former Chinese Wang Chen of the United States 11-9, 9-11, 11-8, 10-12, 6-11, 11-9, 11-5.

Wang sank to her knees amid a flood of tears the moment she won. It was the first time that the 34-year-old played at the Olympic Games. And it was also the last one because she confirmed that she would soon retire.

"It's so difficult to enter the top eight and I've tried my best," she said. "My back hurts a lot and sometimes I just want to give up. But I want to come back to play at the Olympics, which is a big event."

Wang's teammate Gao Jun was not so fortunate. Wu Xue of the Dominican Republic beat Gao 12-10, 11-8, 6-11, 11-3, 8-11, 12-14, 11-9.

Singapore, the second finisher in the team event, also continued their powerful ascent, with two former Chinese Li Jia Wei and Feng Tianwei reaching the quarterfinals.

Feng crushed Li Jie of the Netherlands 7-11, 13-11, 11-7, 11-5, 11-4, before Li Jia Wei edged out Lin Ling of Hong Kong, China 4-11, 14-12, 10-12, 11-8, 5-11, 11-9, 13-11 in a thrilling match.

The Beijing-born Li Jia Wei, who was set to win another medal for the Southeast Asian city-state, said, "Lin was playing above her normal level so I had to be determined and believe that I would win."

The silver Li and her teammates won in the team event was Singapore's first Olympic medal in 48 years since a silver for men's weightlifting in 1960.

Tie Yana became the only Hong Kong player to reach the quarterfinals, after beating Austria's Li Qiangbing 11-9, 9-11, 2-11, 11-2, 11-9, 8-11, 11-3.

In the quarterfinals, China's Zhang will meet Feng, Guo will play Wu and veteran Wang will rise to challenge from Tie. Wang of the United States will confront a supercharged Li of Singapore.

Source: Xinhua

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1 China 45 14 20 79
2 USA 27 28 28 83
3 Great Britain 17 11 11 39
4 Russia 14 14 18 46
5 Australia 11 12 13 36
6 Germany 11 8 9 28
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