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Greece's Table Tennis Gold Quest Ends as Kreanga Crashes Out
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Greece's dream for its first ever Olympic gold in table tennis was shattered as its top medal hopeful Kalinikos Kreanga crashed out of the men's singles last 16 despite the enthusiastic support of a home crowd.


In a third round encounter staged in the Galatsi Olympic Hall in northwest Athens Tuesday morning, Kreanga, currently ranked 9th in the world, suffered a straight-set loss to Swedish veteran Jorg Persson 4-0.


Kreanga was the only remaining Greek in the singles matches as his teammate chopper Panagiotis Gionis already lost in the first round. Kreanga and Gionis also lost in the men's doubles second round Monday.


"My presentation (today) was not the best. I played against a very experienced athlete who didn't give the chance to come back after 2-0 games."


However, he said that he did have a chance to win the third game, in which he came back from 7-9 down to a 9-9 draw. But he finally also conceded this game 9-11.


"This (the third game) is a very important set in the match, but I didn't seize the chance," he said.


But the Greek denied that he was playing under great pressure because of the high expectations on him from the home crowd.


"I don't think that will put me under pressure. I just felt nervous while playing the first match in the big events," he said.


Due to his high seeding position in the tournament, Kreanga had enjoyed a bye in the first two rounds of the singles competition.


Then how about the home crowd? Kreanga said "I think some of them might feel very disappointed because they have come here to see me play".


However, he said he believes that the spectators will keep on watching the tournament despite his loss.


"They love this sport and they have come not only for me. They are just disappointed for this round, but they will keep coming to watch the other matches," he added. 


(Xinhua News Agency August 17, 2004)


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