Rio de Janeiro, Aug 10 (IANS) Two-time table tennis world champion Ding Ning defeated her second straight defensive opponent Kim Song-I here on Wednesday to set up an all-Chinese women’s singles final with teammate Li Xiaoxia in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
Ding and Li’s final encounter will be the first time in the sport’s 28-year history since the 1988 Seoul Games that the same two players entered a singles final in back-to-back Olympic Games, reports Xinhua.
Claiming the winning point with a lucky edge ball, Ding, who lost to Li four years ago after being deducted three points by Italian umpire Paola Bongelli without any warning, played extremely patiently against the chopper and triumphed 11-5, 9-11, 11-6, 11-3, 11-9.
“I knew it could be this difficult,” said the 26-year-old. “The opponent is quite strong with little fame tough, while I’m not as good at playing against a defensive player as Li or the another teammate of mine Liu Shiwen.”
“Also I was not feeling 100% this morning,” said Ding. “I told myself over and over again to be concentrated and confident despite all the negative aspects of the game. I did it and I made it.”
Ding or Li, whoever wins the final on Wednesday evening, will bring the 25th Olympic gold medal for China, who never missed a single title of the women’s singles in the eight Olympic Games so far.
“The honour belongs to all Chinese working or having worked for the national table tennis team, the players, coaches, staff from supporting teams and the fans,” said Kong Linghui, who took over the helm of the Chinese women’s national team four years ago from Shi Zhihao after London 2012.
Kong, a Grand Slam winner of the sport and the men’s singles Olympic champion in Sydney 2000, said he’ll not supervise any of the finalists in evening’s final and his next main focus will be on China’s team event opponents.