London - Chinese clean sweep of the Olympic women’s table tennis competition highlights that the younger players have successfully replaced their legendary predecessors.
The women dropped only two games out of 11 in table tennis and finished off Japan 3-0 for China’s 23rd Olympic gold, Xinhua reports.
The achievements were made by a team of young players, two of whom, Li Xiaoxia and Ding Ning, were competing in the Olympics for the first time. Li and Ding, 24 and 22, also won the gold and silver in singles event.
Shi Zhihao, head coach of China’s women’s team, said the London Games showed that China’s young table tennis players had successfully replaced the likes of Wang Nan.
“I am happy not only for their excellent performance, but also for the fact that they are young. I believe in the next four to eight years, Chinese players will become even more powerful,” Shi said.
The women’s team suffered some setbacks after the retirement of Wang Nan and Zhang Yining. The two won countless titles before calling it a day after the Beijing Olympics.
Shi said many kept asking him what China should do after Wang and Zhang retire, especially after the 2010 Moscow World Team Championships where they lost to Singapore.
“I always had the confidence that a new generation of leading players will emerge after the Olympics. Now they are here. Ding and Li are the core players (of the new generation),” Shi said.
Though China won all the medals on offer in London, Shi said the Games were much more difficult than the Beijing edition, where they also made a clean sweep.
The difficulties include the lack of experienced players and other changes the International Table Tennis Federation has made to the rules, such as the singles-first competition format and the reduction of players in the singles.
“As a matter of fact, there is almost nothing similar between the 2008 Games and 2012 Games. But our players faced all the changes and conquered them all. I’m really proud of them,” Shi said.