London 2012 table tennis update
The Olympics is the biggest sports event in the world and every country is given the opportunity to showcase its strongest sportsmen and women. Some are well-known and loved across the globe like Usain Bolt, but others are relatively unknown and use the Olympic games to make a name for themselves.
Paul Drinkhall was the British number one table tennis player going into the 2012 games, but ask members of the public and the a majority would be unable to pick him out of a crowd. Despite exiting the men’s singles event after suffering a straight 4-0 set defeat to German Dimitrij Ovtcharov, Drinkhall has done himself and Great Britain proud with some assured and quite brilliant performances.
Drinkhall put in a quality display in the second round to eliminate South Korean Zi Yang, ranked 55 places above him in the world rankings. In losing to the German Ovtcharov, he failed to become the first Brit to reach the last 16 in 24 years since Desmond Douglas in the Seoul games.
Elsewhere in the men’s draw, number one seed Zhang Jike is on course to win a gold medal and become the fourth male player in table tennis history to achieve a career grand slam. He faces Dimitri Ovtcharov, who defeated Britain’s Paul Drinkhall in the last 32, but he must be wary as Ovtcharov has history at the Olympics as he picked up the silver medal in Beijing in 2008.
In the other semi-final, the world number two, Chih-Yuan Chuang, faces world number five, Hao Wang. Wang and Jike will be looking to make it an all-Chinese final and it will be difficult to bet against that in what should be an exciting climax to the men’s singles event.
In the women’s singles event, Great Britain’s Joanne Parker overcame Brazilian Caroline Kumahara in straight sets in the first round before becoming the latest Brit to lose to a German, Kristin Silbereisen, in the second round. It was a good effort by Joanne Parker who showed some promise against her higher ranked opposition.
The women’s singles event came to an end with an all-Chinese final between number one seed Ning Ding and number two seed Xiaoxia Li. Li managed to cause an upset by triumphing 4-1 against her fellow countrywoman, therefore winning the gold medal. Tianwei Feng from Singapore took the bronze medal after defeating Kasumi Ishikawa 4-0 in the bronze placed play-off.
The men’s semi-final and final take place tomorrow from 10am and one thing is for sure: they will be just as intense and exhilarating as the final in the women’s event.
Paul Jones, Olympics correspondent