Table Tennis News & Videos
Courtesy of Butterfly.tt
Hailed universally as the best ever, the Olympic Games was not only a massive success for the London Olympic Games Organizing Committee, it was a massive success for Butterfly.
Every step of the podium was at some stage occupied by a Butterfly sponsored player; Butterfly won bronze, silver and precious gold!
Zhang Jike became the first ever-reigning Men�s Singles World champion to win gold in the same event at an Olympic Games; later he added the Men�s Team title to complete a memorable debut in the quadrennial gathering.
Medals for Asian Butterfly sponsored players and there were also medals for Europeans.
Zhang Jike Enters Record Book
Not unexpectedly, all four titles at London 2012 went to the favorites from China.
Zhang Jike and Li Xiaoxia won the prestigious Men�s and Women�s Singles titles with Zhang Jike completing the hat-trick of major global titles.
In 2011, he won the Men�s Singles title at the GAC GROUP 2011 World Championships in Rotterdam and at the LIEBHERR Men�s World Cup in Paris. On all three occasions, he beat Wang Hao in the final and in so doing he became the only player ever to hold all three titles at the same time.
"Winning the Olympic gold medal in both singles and team, the dream came true; a goal for which I have worked so hard�, said the 24 year old Butterfly star.
Bronze was won by a German player, but not the anticipated German player. Dimitrij Ovtcharov seized the opportunity presented to beat Chinese Taipei�s Chuang Chih-Yuan, another Butterfly sponsored player, in the third place contest, having won a dramatic quarterfinal duel. In the round of the last eight he accounted for Denmark�s Michael Maze, like Chuang Chih-Yuan, a Butterfly sponsored player.
However, London belonged to Zhang Jike, who not only displayed his immense technical skills, also he demonstrated his remarkable mental capabilities. In the fourth round he trailed Vladimir Samsonov of Belarus by three games to two; he was on the brink of farewell but he responded and he responded in style to book his place in the quarterfinals. The last two games were won with faultless perfection.
Stronger from Adversity
In the face of adversity, Zhang Jike emerged stronger and that was the situation for Timo Boll; he had not been at his best in the Men�s Singles event, beaten in the fourth round by Romania�s Adrian Crisan.
"I was so nervous; it was very unusual for me but I had a real block�, reminisced Timo Boll. �Probably it is something that is special to the Olympics and it is not that easy for me to accept.�
However, as with all great sporting stars, he laid history to rest.
He was the one player to cause the superb Zhang Jike problems; at the semi-final stage of the Men�s Team event he beat Zhang Jike in a scintillating full distance five games duel and once again the Butterfly star underlined the fact that he is the major threat not only from Europe, but globally, to Chinese supremacy.
Timo Boll Excels in ExCeL
The win against Zhang Jike was a watershed in the Olympic Games for Timo Boll; it gave him a massive injection of confidence and answered any questions doubters may have harbored.
In the opening round of the Men�s Team event he had been beaten by the Swedish veteran J�rgen Persson; Timo Boll was expected to record two wins against the Nordic outfit. The defeat increased the pressure on Germany and it increased the pressure on one man in particular; it increased the pressure on Bastian Steger.
Not having played in the singles, he was playing his first match in the whole competition and his first match ever in the Olympic Games. Magnificently the Butterfly supported player responded and he responded in style, to guide Germany through to the quarterfinals.
He partnered Timo Boll to a straight games win over P�r Gerell and Jens Lundqvist, before succeeding in a similar manner against J�rgen Persson to bring matters to a conclusion.
A place in the Men�s Team quarterfinal booked, there were still some questions to be answered; could Austria pose Germany problems with Timo Boll somewhat out of form and arguably low on confidence.
The answer came in the most emphatic manner possible; a three matches to nil win for Germany was posted. Most significantly Timo Boll never in doubt against Werner Schlager and with Bastian Steger supreme in the doubles against Chen Weixing and Robert Gardos.
Now, to some extent the pressure was reduced; next was the mighty China and the man in form Zhang Jike, seemingly invincible but nobody is unbeatable. Timo Boll rejuvenated after the success against Austria beat the newly crowned Olympic champion. There was a glimmer of hope for Germany but it was not to be; the immense strength in depth of the gold medalists elect averted a possible sensation.
"We missed some chances, which could have turned the match�, said Timo Boll. �You must be one hundred per cent against China, you cannot afford any mistakes; otherwise China always wins.�
Defeat meant a contest against Hong Kong China for the bronze medal.
Germany, with a back to form Timo Boll recorded a three-one victory; the Butterfly star was the mainstay of victory. He beat both Leung Chu Yan and Jiang Tianyi; against the latter, also a Butterfly sponsored player, he showed his resilience.
He recovered from a 4-8 deficit in the fourth game; surrendering just one further point to secure victory and a bronze medal for Germany.
"We had a difficult draw and met China too early, so this bronze medal for us was at least as valuable as silver," said Timo Boll, who was over the moon at securing the medal and performing better as the tournament progressed.
"The early departure in the singles really hurt but I am glad that I was able to cope with this extreme situation faster than I could have thought�, reflected Timo Boll. �I'm very glad I could help the team and achieve our target; winning the medal meant I could really enjoy the celebrations!�
Brave Korea, Superb China
A bronze medal for Germany, it was silver for Korea but in defeat the trio of Joo Se Hyuk, Oh Sang Eun and Ryu Seung Min could hold their heads high.
Against Portugal in the second round they had trailed by two matches to one before responding to the crisis with Ryu Seung Min beating Marcos Freitas to secure a semi-final place.
Arguably it was the test that the Koreans need; they had passed the test and in the penultimate round they graduated with honors. They beat Hong Kong China by three matches to nil, with opening match nail-biting win recorded by Ryu Seung Min over Tang Peng, the spark to ignite self-belief.
Oh Sang Eun
An Olympic Moment
The final success for China over Korea was clear-cut and it was the same in the Women�s Team final with China overpowering Japan. However, on the medal podium for the silver medal winning trio of Kasumi Ishikawa, Ai Fukuhara and Sayaka Hirano it was bright smiles; they had secured Japan�s first ever medal in the table tennis events at an Olympic Games.
Unquestionably the tears shed when they beat Singapore in the semi-final provided one of the most memorable moments of the whole Olympic Games; to see tears roll down the face of coach Yazakazu Murakami, a man who never shows his feelings and is the most stoic of characters, was a special sight, a true Olympic moment.
Defeat for Singapore but they clinched the bronze medal; for Korea with Kim Kyungah, Seok Hajung and Dang Yeoseo in action it was fourth place and disappointment.
In any tournament there are winners and losers but in London there was one winner above all in the spacious ExCeL Arena; every session on the North Hall was sold out.
Enthusiasts outside held placards �Wanted Tickets for Table Tennis�; no chance; the winner on all 12 days of competition was table tennis and for those privileged to be present a legend was anointed.
Zhang Jike, the Butterfly superstar, became immortal.
(Butterfly partners marked bold)
Gold: Zhang Jike CHN
Silver: Wang Hao CHN
Bronze: Dimitrij Ovtcharov GER
Gold: Li Xiaoxia CHN
Silber: Ding Ning CHN
Bronze: Feng Tianwei SIN
Gold: China (Zhang Jike, Wang Hao, Ma Long)
Silver: South Korea (Joo Se Hyuk, Oh Sang Eun, Ryu Seung Min)
Bronze: Germany (Timo Boll, Bastian Steger, Dimitrij Ovtcharov)
Gold: China (Li Xiaoxia, Ding Ning, Guo Yue)
Silber: Japan (Kasumi Ishikawa, Ai Fukuhara, Sayaka Hirano)
Bronze: Singapore (Feng Tianwei, Wang Yuegu, Li Jiawei)
Joo Se Hyuk
Ryu Seung Min