Ryu Seung Min of South Korea beat Chinese Wang Hao 4-2 to clinch
the men's singles gold in the table tennis tournament of the 2004
Athens Olympic Games Monday.
The scores for the match were 11-3, 9-11, 11-9,11-9, 13-11 and
Ryu denied the powerful Chinese a chance to repeat their feat in
Atlanta 1996 and Sydney 2000, when they bagged all four table
tennis golds in the Olympic table tennis tournaments.
The Chinese paddlers had grabbed three golds from women's
doubles, men's doubles and women's singles earlier in Athens.
"Ryu played a superb match today and he overwhelmed Wang from
the very beginning," said Liu Guoliang, coach of the Chinese men's
team after the match.
"He played extremely fiercely while Wang appeared a bit
conservative and slow," Liu added. "I think this was because he was
playing under great pressure."
This was the first Olympic Games for the 21-year-old Wang, now
ranked 4th in singles in the world, while the 3rd-ranked Ryu had
participated in the Sydney Games.
The 22-year-old Ryu jumped onto his coach Kim Taek Soo and the
two embraced in ecstasy. The match was quite close and Ryu conceded
his first match point at 10-9 in the fifth game to let Wang win
13-11. But the South Korean converted his second match point in the
sixth into victory.
Ryu had never defeated Wang before in their previous
This was the second men's singles gold for the South Koreans at
the Olympic Games in 16 years. Yoo Nam-Kyu won the first in Seoul
1988 when table tennis had its Olympic debut.
South Korea, with a third title for women's doubles at Seoul
1988, is also the second largest winner of table tennis golds at
the Olympic Games, only after China, which bagged 16 of the total
In a third-place decider played before the final, China's world
No.1 Wang Liqin beat Swedish veteran Jan-Ove Waldner 4-1 to win a
Waldner, already 39, was the only European in the singles last
four. He also won the only Olympic table tennis gold for Europe in
men's singles at Barcelona 1992.
(Xinhua News Agency August 23, 2004)