Li stuns favorite Ding in all-China final

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Li Xiaoxia celebrates.

Li Xiaoxia extended China's domination in women's table tennis by clinching the Olympic gold medal with a victory over teammate Ding Ning in singles final.

Feng Tianwei of Singapore defeated Kasumi Ishikawa of Japan for the bronze.

The final was a match of momentum: Li had it from the start and never lost it, playing close to the table and playing aggressively. It also got testy.

In the fourth game, Ding picked up a red card and a one-point penalty from Italian referee Paola Bongelli for using her towel during a non-break period.

She also picked up several other penalties in the match for failing to toss the ball high enough on the serve.

The 22-year-old Ding - the No. 1-ranked player in the game - was the favorite going in, but could never wrest the momentum from Li.

"I didn't do very well today. I had two obstacles, not only from my opponent but from the judge," said the crestfallen Ding. "Not only did she give me a yellow card but she also gave me a red. There's nothing I can do. She judged my serving. I was only doing my best. It's quite a pity because I lost, not only because of my tactics but also outside the arena."

Li represents the new generation, a 24-year-old who follows in a long line of Olympic women gold-medal winners in what is China's national pastime. She follows icons Zhang Yining, who took four gold medals in the last two Olympics. Wang Nan won hers in three Olympics - 2000, 2004 and 2008. And Deng Yaping started the string with four in 1992 and 1996.

Li is known in China as Miss No. 2, partly for matches she has lost to Ding, including the final in last year's world championship. That's no more, though she still has a losing record against Ding in official matches. In 11, she has won 5. But this one counted at least double, or triple - maybe 10 times - in significance.

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