A rough scene of Team China's table tennis part on the court of
next year's Beijing Olympic Games has been emerged after the
leading Chinese paddlers made a clean sweep at the sport's
year-ending event concluded in Beijing on Sunday.
Ma Lin and Li Xiaoxia both added weights to their chances of
representing China at the 29th Olympic Games on home soil after
each crowned in the men's and women's singles events at the
just-concluded ITTF ProTour Finals in the Beijing University
Gymnasium, the venue to hold the Olympic table tennis competitions
Former Olympians Wang Liqin and Wang Nan, however, will face
even more heated challenges from teammates with elimination ahead
of the final dash in singles events.
Rumors have been around that Chen Qi from China's Jiangsu
Province stands the third male paddler favored by the Chinese
ruling body of the sport, and veteran Wang Nan might be given her
last shot in 2008 with the plenty of her experience, since the
Olympic table tennis competitions will play team events instead of
the doubles in Beijing.
The results of the Finals, however, give the talks another
On the men's part, world number two Ma Lin defeated Japan's top
paddler Yang Zi, the reigning leader of Europe Timo Boll from
Germany, Chinese upstart Ma Long in a row before winning over
top-ranked compatriot Wang Hao in the singles final on Sunday
World No. 3 Wang Liqin, the twice world champion and Olympic
bronze medalist in Athens, suffered a semifinal exit after losing
4-1 to the second seed Wang Hao in a surprisingly easy way.
All the three of Ma Lin, Wang Hao and Wang Liqin have reached
the men's doubles final with the pair of Wang Liqin and Chen Qi
coming out the eventual winners against Wang Hao and Ma Lin, while
good records are seen for all of them in history.
In the women's singles, Li Xiaoxia came another Chinese winning
the ITTF year-ending glory as the silver medalist at last May's
world championships in Zagreb, now trailing Zhang Yining, Guo Yue
and Wang Nan in the world rankings, denied "Grand Slam " winner
Zhang Yining and reigning world champ Guo Yue to lift the
Li, just 19 years old, also took the women's doubles trophy
after partnering Guo Yue to beat South Korea's defensive pair Kim
Kyung Ah and Park Mi Young in full sets, while Wang Nan, 29, was
ousted in as early as the second round by teammate Guo Yan, a
former World Cup winner after beating the well-recognized prodigy
Zhang Yining in the final.
According to the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF),
the top-20-ranked paddlers in January, 2008 will earn direct berths
to the Beijing Olympics with no more than two players from a same
But with seven men paddlers within the top-20 standings of the
latest released world rankings by the world governing body, China
will have a full range of selection to make up the Olympic
Results of the Finals have an immediate impact on the first
edition world rankings of year 2008, meaning that Wang Hao and Ma
Lin keep their advantage over Wang Liqin and Li Xiaoxia's chance
against Wang Nan has been further boosted after the year-ending
Ma, a Chinese Olympian who took the men's doubles gold medal
with then teenager Chen Qi four years ago in Athens, has never
played a single match of men's singles in the Olympic Games and it
might be his last chance to make up the pity next year on home soil
before retiring from the star-packed Chinese national team.
"I'd hoped to find my rhythm at the Olympic venue and gotten in
touch with feelings of playing an Olympic game. And I make it
here," said the 27-year-old Ma after beating Boll in the
"Of course I desperately want to play for China in the Olympic
Games as it's definitely the most honorable moment for an athlete
to play the OG representing his country on the home turf," he
added. "But what I can do now is just to do my best during the
match and prepare myself well for future competitions."
He was echoed by Wang Liqin, although the latter may have to
play Asian zone qualifications for the 2008 Olympics with his
sluggish performance recently.
"Even if I had to play the Asian zone qualifications for a place
in China's Olympic squad of table tennis, I will reckon it as a
good thing since every pre-tournament match is a chance for me to
get better sense of the game and very good opportunity for me to
review my performance," said the 29-year-old.
Wang Liqin, with his long standing as the best player of the
world, was crowned at the 2003 and 2007 worlds, but lost to the
25-year-old Wang Hao in the Olympic semifinals three years ago in
Athens and repeatedly came out the defeated one in the two's
(Xinhua News Agency December 17, 2007)