With reigning Olympic champion Zhang Jike and Ma Long advancing to the gold medal match in the men’s singles table tennis tournament, China was assured of its third straight Olympic gold medal in the event. The only question answer was who would win, and in the end Ma took gold in impressive fashion.
After winning the first set 14-12, Ma rolled through the next three sets by scores of 11-5, 11-4 and 11-4 to win the gold medal in straight sets. China has taken gold in five of the last six men’s singles competitions, but none of those five athletes managed to win more than once. Zhang was looking to change that Thursday night, but after putting up a tough fight in the first set he was unable to get much of anything going against Ma.
Out of a possible 30 gold medals in the Olympic history of table tennis, an athlete from China has won gold in 26 of them, so it comes as no surprise that their national anthem was once again playing during the medal ceremony. Ma, who won a gold medal in the team competition, finally has his first Olympic singles gold medal.
Japan’s Jun Mizutani took bronze with a five-set victory over Belarus’ Vladimir Samsonov, and his medal is the first ever for Japan in singles table tennis.