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South Korea powers over Hong Kong to settle for quest for bronze in table tennis
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16:08, August 17, 2008


Li Ching (R) and Ko Lai Chak of Chinese Hong Kong compete during the men's team bronze play-off round 2 match between the Republic of Korea and Chinese Hong Kong of Beijing Olympic Games table tennis event in Beijing, China, Aug. 17, 2008. The Republic of Korea beat Chinese Hong Kong 3-1. (Xinhua Photo)


South Korea crashed Hong Kong of China to book a place on Sunday in the fight for bronze at men's table tennis team event of the Beijing Olympic Games.

In the opening tie, 15th-ranked Oh Sang Eun built up South Korea's advantage after racing past Cheung Yuk of Hong Kong 3-1. Oh fought a thrilling battle against China's four-time World Cup winner Ma Lin Saturday evening and was edged out 3-2.

Defending singles champion Ryu Seung Min had a hard time against veteran Li Ching who led 2-0 in the first two sets but was overtaken by Ryu, forcing a decisive fifth set. Li steadied himself to play one by one and took the tiebreaker 11-7 before clinching a 3-2 victory for Hong Kong.

Being leveled 1-1, Athens silver medalist LI Ching/Ko Lai Chak did not hold off the ferocious charges of Yoon Jae Young/ Ryu Seung Min in doubles event and dropped the match 3-2.

Ko Lai Chak, who tried his best on court, failed to keep Hong Kong's dream to battle for bronze alive after being eliminated by Oh 3-2 in the tiebreaker.

"We didn't do well on tactics and the South Korean fought really very hard," Li said, adding that Hong Kong's loss to Japan in group stage still overshadowed them.

"We were on the defense for the majority of the doubles contest. To outlast Japan, for us, requires more than normal performance," Hong Kong coach Chan Kong Wah said.

"We beat them in spirit. When South Korea led 2-1, I just want to win the match so that the team would win," Oh said.

"I was a little worried about my shoulder injury and prepared well for the tournament. Luckily, it did not affect me," he added.

South Korean coach Yoo Nam Kyu said Ryu was physically exhausted after last evening's against Wang Hao." He was uneasy about his loss but still encouraged his teammates," Yoo said.

Meanwhile, a grueling battle was put up on stage between Japan and Austria. Japan pitted Kan Yo, Jun Mizutani Seiya Kishikawa against Austria's line-up of 2003 world champion Werner Schlager, Chen Weixing and Robert Gardos.

Japanese squad trailed all the way to lose the match 1-3 despite the opening 1-0 lead clinched by Kan over Schlager.

"Physically I was not in the best shape. I've tried to play my best, but lost. I can't concentrate on the game after catching a cold," Schlager said. He gave credit to Kan Yo, saying that Kan has made big progress over the past several years.

South Korea and Japan succumbed to China and Germany Saturday to miss their chances of advancing to the gold-medal match.

Austria will compete with South Korea for the third-place finisher before China takes on Germany for the final Monday evening.

The table tennis tournament, held in the 8,000-seat Peking University Gymnasium, is scheduled to last 11 days starting from Aug. 13.

Source: Xinhua

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1 China 27 13 9 49
2 USA 17 18 22 57
3 Germany 9 5 5 19
4 Australia 8 10 11 29
5 South Korea 7 9 4 20
6 Japan 7 5 6 18
7 England 7 3 7 17
8 Italy 6 5 5 16
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