August 3, 2012
Zhang Jike Clinches Gold, Once Again Silver is the Colour for Wang Hao
Zhang Jike, World champion, now
Photo By: An Sung Ho
Courtesy of ITTF
He beat Chinese National Team colleague Wang Hao in the final to win the coveted gold medal and write his name indelibly in the history books not only of table tennis but of sport in general.
Zhang Jike secured victory in a five game contest that engrossed the capacity crowd; he won 18-16, 11-5, 11-6, 10-12, 13-11.
The win adds to the ever growing number of titles secured by the Chinese star as he becomes recognized as one of the greatest players of all time.
The result meant that it was the third consecutive time that Wang Hao had concluded proceedings at an Olympic Games with the Menís Singles silver medal.
Furthermore, it was third tournament of world status, in succession, where Wang Hao had been beaten in the final by Zhang Jike.
In 2004 Wang Hao had lost to Koreaís Ryu Seung Min in the Menís Singles final; four years later he was beaten by Ma Lin.
Meanwhile in the final of the Menís Singles event at the GAC GROUP 2011 World Championships he had been beaten by Zhang Jike and later in the year in Paris in the gold medal contest at the LIEBHERR Menís World Cup.
Emulated Liu Guoliang
Also, Zhang Jike becomes the only the second man to hold both titles at the same time; the other is the man who guided him to the final in the ExCeL Arena; Liu Guoliang.
He was the reigning Olympic champion when he won the Menís Singles title at the World Championships in 1999 in Eindhoven.
However, Zhang Jike is the first ever reigning Menís Singles World champion to have won the gold medal in the Menís Singles event at an Olympic Games.
Crucial Opening Game
In the final against Wang Hao at the London 2012 Olympic Games, the opening game proved crucial.
Zhang Jike established a 10-7 lead; Wang Hao leveled at 10-all. Both had chances to win the game; at 17-16 the champion elect held game point. He elected to take a ďTime OutĒ; it proved to be a wise move.
Wang Hao served, then a trademark backhand top spin return of a short service, wide to the forehand, left Wang Hao stranded.
Win a close game and confidence blossoms; the adage applied to Zhang Jike.
Imperious he won the second and third games; in the fourth he led 5-3, Wang Hao elected to take a ďTime OutĒ.
Wang Hao recovered, Zhang Jike made errors; he was somewhat passive. Wang Hao won the game.
In the fifth game, Zhang Jike went ahead 8-5; a top spin stroke from Zhang Jike went wide or did it?
Zhang Jike pointed to explain the ball had touched, Wang Hao stood bemused, not sure. Earlier in the match he had shown fine examples of sportsmanship, advising the umpire on one occasion that the ball had hit his shirt and the point should be awarded to Zhang Jike.
Point Awarded to Wang Hao
Eventually, the point was awarded to Wang Hao; it was 7-6, it should have been 8-5; the video replay showed that the ball had touched the edge.
Soon play resumed and on his second match point Zhang Jike succeeded; he leapt over the barrier, kissed the five Olympic Rings on the podium before returning to shake hands with all concerned.
At his first attempt Zhang Jike had succeeded; just as one year ago in Rotterdam, he had won the Menís Singles event at GAC GROUP 20111 World Championships.
Gold was in the hands of Zhang Jike, a champion was crowned, a legend created.
The maedalists in the Menís Singles event at the London 2012 Olympic Games
left to right: Wang Hao (silver), Zhang Jike (gold), Dimitrij Ovtcharov (bronze)
Photo By: An Sung Ho
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