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"Victory of Faith" Helps South Korea Make History in Asiad Table Tennis
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The South Korean paddlers made the history here on Tuesday as their women doubles pair Lee Eun-sil/Seok Eun-mi walked tightrope to beat the powerful Chinese duo Zhang Yining/Li Nan 4-3 for the gold medal in the Asian Games.

By this victory, the South Koreans have bagged both Asiad golds in the table tennis doubles events, something they had never achieved ever since China's participation in the Asian Games in the 1970s.

Two South Korean men's doubles pairs, scoring a double victory against the Chinese in Monday's semifinals, have secured the other gold for the hosts.

Meanwhile, the Chinese table tennis team, boasting world No.1 and No.2 on both men's and women's rankings, has suffered its worst defeat in the Asiad.

In the five events so far played, the Chinese, winners of six golds in the previous Asian Games in Bangkok, only managed to defend their men's team title.

"We lost in the women's team competition due to a lack of faith.But we had a strong faith in today's final and as a result we won," said Lee after the match.

Both players and their coach, former Olympic women's doubles champion Hyun Jung-wha, burst into joyful tears as soon as the hard battle was over. They hugged together in a small circle, totally ignoring photographers and journalists around them.

Hyun appeared so emotional that she couldn't utter a word when being approached and asked for comment by some Chinese correspondents. Cupping her mouth with her right hand, she was escorted out of the court by team officials.

The South Korean pair came back from an almost impossible situation of trailing 1-3 in the first four games, taking back two games by 11-8, 11-9 to even the score before winning the decider 12-10.

The Chinese women also shed tears after the match. Winners of four golds in Bangkok, they have so far failed to claim any title in the three already finished events of women's team, mixed doubles and women's doubles. With team ace and world No.1 Wang Nan totally out of form, their chance for defending the singles gold also appeared slim.

At a press conference following the medal-awarding ceremony, the other South Korean coach Lee You-sung praised his players for their superb performance on court.

"They have practiced extremely hard after losing the team competition," said Lee. "We have faced so many strong players from

China, including Chinese Hong Kong and Chinese Taipei, but we beat them all to win."

This victory will greatly boost the self-confidence of the South Korean women paddlers, who were just criticized on Monday by some domestic media as "incompetent", he added.

China has expected some difficulty in the women's doubles event,as South Korea has locked their aim at this Asiad gold for a long time and their doubles pairs have practiced longer and also have richer experience.

However, the South Korean coach pointed out that Lee/Seok was not the main doubles pair in the team. The team's top pair, Ryu Ji-hae/Kim Moo-kyo were beaten 1-4 by Zhang and Li in a Monday semifinal.

But Lee and Seok, also trailing 1-2 in the early stage of the other semifinal, struck back bravely and confidently to overcome China's Wang Nan/Guo Yan 4-2.

Shortly after the women's doubles final, Lee Chul-seung/Ryu Seung-min beat their teammates Kim Taek-soo/Oh Sang-eun for the men's doubles gold.

Matches of the men's and women's singles will be played later Tuesday, with the last four of both events decided by the end of the day.

(Xinhua News Agency October 8, 2002)

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