Ma Long extends China’s men’s singles table tennis gold medal streak

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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.

WATCH: Ma Long smashes his way to gold

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.

WATCH: Ma Long accepts table tennis gold medal

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.

Kendall Gretsch wins six gold medals at Para Nordic Ski Worlds

Kendall Gretsch
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Kendall Gretsch, who won Paralympic titles at the last Summer and Winter Games, added another six gold medals at the World Para Nordic Skiing Championships in Sweden last week.

Gretsch, 30, earned seven total medals in seven days between biathlon and cross-country skiing.

Gretsch won gold medals in three different sports across the last three Paralympics: biathlon and cross-country skiing in 2018 (two years after taking up the sports), triathlon in 2021 and biathlon in 2022.

She plans to shift her focus back to triathlon after this winter for 2024 Paris Games qualification.

Gretsch, born with spina bifida, was the 2014 USA Triathlon Female Para Triathlete of the Year. Though triathlon was added to the Paralympics for the 2016 Rio Games, her classification was not added until Tokyo.

Also at last week’s worlds, six-time Paralympian Aaron Pike earned his first Paralympic or world championships gold medal in his decade-plus career, winning a 12.5km biathlon event.

Oksana Masters, who won seven medals in seven events at last year’s Paralympics to break the career U.S. Winter Paralympics medals record, missed worlds due to hand surgery.

The U.S. also picked up five medals at last week’s World Para Alpine Skiing Championships in Spain — three silvers for five-time Paralympian Laurie Stephens and two bronzes for 17-year-old Saylor O’Brien.

Stephens now has 18 career medals from world championships, plus seven at the Paralympics.

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World champion skier Kyle Smaine dies in avalanche at age 31

Kyle Smaine
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Kyle Smaine, a retired world champion halfpipe skier, died in an avalanche in Japan on Sunday, according to NBC News, citing Smaine’s father. He was 31.

Smaine, a 2015 World champion in ski halfpipe, had been doing ski filming in Japan, sharing videos on his Instagram account over the past week.

The native of South Lake Tahoe, California, finished ninth in ski halfpipe at the 2016 Winter X Games in Aspen, Colorado.

In 2018, Smaine won the fifth and final U.S. Olympic qualifying series event in ski halfpipe but did not make the four-man team for PyeongChang. His last sanctioned international competition was in February 2018.

Late Sunday, two-time Olympic champion David Wise won the X Games men’s ski halfpipe and dedicated it to Smaine.

“We all did this for Kyle tonight,” Wise said on the broadcast. “It’s a little bit of an emotional day for us. We lost a friend.”