Tokyo, May 4, 2014: The Chinese juggernaut rolled on in front of a capacity crowd of 9000 in Yoyogi Gymnasium to win their 19th World Team Table Tennis Championships titles.
In the Chinese men’s team who were the top seeds, which consisted of the world’s top three players, headed into the finals as title favourites, against the second seeded German team who fielded a team that was “their best in history” as described by German team member BOLL Timo.
Despite the German team’s best efforts, China overwhelmed Germany 3-1 to claim the Swaythling Cup.
“This is our strongest generation, but unfortunately for us this Chinese generation is also amazing,” said BOLL. “There’s no shame losing to such strong players.”
China’s MA Long raced to a strong start, taking down BOLL in 3 games 11-6, 11-9, 11-9. World number 4 Dimitrij OVTCHAROV then offered the German team a glimpse of hope, as he defeated Olympic and World Champion ZHANG Jike 13-11, 11-8, 11-6.
This marks the only match that China has dropped in this championships, and also ZHANG’s first ever loss any individual or team championships, a streak that lasted 26 matches.
This gallant victory from the world number four German was not enough as, XU Xin and MA Long swept aside Patrick FRANZISKA and Dimitirj OVTCHAROV respectively in straight sets, giving the Chinese Men’s team their 7th straight Team Championship win.
After the match, XU commented: “MA Long (who won the Victor Barna award for the most valuable player of the tournament) has not lost yet. His game is something to learn from. But since we’re a team, there’s no need to say just because somebody lost it means there’s a problem. The most important thing is for the Chinese team to keep on supporting each other and encouraging each other.”
For the women’s team finals, there were no surprises as the Chinese team, which consisted of the world’s top three players, LIU Shiwen, DING Ning and LI Xiaoxia, whitewashed second seeded Japan 3-0.
To the dismay of the sold out crowd, the Japanese team of ISHIGAKI Yuka, ISHIKAWA Kasumi and HIRANO Sayaka were unable to replicate their successful performance in the semifinals the day before, where they came back from 0-1 to defeat Hong Kong.
Former World Champion DING Ning stated during the press conference: “Our players played our best, we won as a team so I’m very happy about our victory.”
Not even a 6.2 earthquake that rocked Tokyo at 5:20am could stop the Chinese women from claiming the Corbillon Cup.
Reflecting on the earthquake Olympic champion LI Xiaoxia stated:
“I had not been sleeping well, and the earthquake did not help. And also it was the biggest earthquake I ever experienced, so I panicked a little, and didn’t dare move from my bed. I was glad when it was over”
Despite the Japanese team not winning gold, they were satisfied to make their first final in 31 years in this home country. The star of their team Kasumi ISHIKAWA stated: “As a team of five we overcame difficult situations. For example we came close to losing in the quarterfinals but overcame in the end, which gave us great confidence. We played as a team, with a big crowd giving us energy, and we played at our best.”
At the conclusion of the event the local Japanese organizers handed over the International Table Tennis Federation flag to the next organizer in Suzhou, China, which will host the 2015 World Individual Championships on 26 April – 3 May 2015. —- Photo © Remy Gros/ITTF