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How Japan spoiled China's table tennis run
Jul 29, 2021, 3:23:00 AM

How Japan spoiled China's table tennis run

Japan has pulled off a huge feat in the Tokyo Games as they rallied behind Jun Mizutani and Mima Ito en route to their first-ever gold medal win in table tennis. The team has taken down China in the final and ended a long reign by the nation in the sport.

Japan has waited a long time to win a gold medal in table tennis. China has owned the sport in the Games for so many years and it was a fresh sight to see the flag of the sun rise up on the podium for the first time.

China is known for its sheer dominance in the sport, they are the beasts of table tennis in Asia and one can say that they did well over the years. No nation has been able to stand up against the might of China in the sport, and it took time for one to beat them.

Japan is now at the top of the game, and this is a huge message that the nation is ready to take over. This might just be the time for them to own the spotlight and continue striving for the future.

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Japan’s big win

Jun and Mima made history as they cruised past the mixed doubles contest to claw their way into the gold medal at the Tokyo Games. The duo had to come back from a 0-2 hole before winning four of the last five sets to win the game.

Chinese world champions Xu Xin and Liu Shiwen were stunned as they could not hold on and lost the game at 4-3, going 5-11, 7-11, 11-8, 11-9, 11-9, 6-11 and 11-6 in that span. It was an intense final between the two sides and it took some time for Japan to get their groove and close it out in the last set. 

The Japanese pair came back from the dead in the earlier rounds of the contest. The team made sure that they would pull an upset and bring great honour to their home country. Both Jun and Mima were pleased with the result and could not hold back their feelings after the win.

‘China has beaten us so many times at the Olympics and at the World Championships. I think we were able to avenge all those losses here at the Tokyo Games. I'm really happy’, said Jun. ‘We were on the back foot when we were down 0-4 in the third game, but we were able to take back that game and from there, the momentum shifted in our direction’.

‘I'm really happy’, Mima said. ‘We were able to enjoy ourselves up to the very end because everyone, including our team staff, cheered us on’.

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End of a reign

China was always the gold winner since table tennis came into play at the 1988 Seoul Games. The team has won 28 of the 32 gold medals, winning all of them since missing out on the men’s title in Athens 2004.

Mixed doubles has a long history in the world games - another venue that China has won all the time. The last time Japan won was in Stockholm in 1957 and then saw another in 2015. This was the first in the Games.

Jun and Mima’s success in the Games only proves that Japan is on the verge of taking over the game. They may need to beat China multiple times before they can sit at the top of the game in many years.

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Words: Paul Daniel Flores

Image: PA