20 Mar 2017

Day eleven is the end of the Rio road for the women here in Riocentro Pavillion 3 and it’s time to collect the ultimate Olympic souvenir.

by Wade Townsend

A medal or misery

First up on day eleven we have the bronze medal playoff between Japan and Singapore. Ai Fukuhara has been able to get another win added to her head to head record against Feng Tianwei here in Rio. But now it is 4-14 against — still not great. She was playing her best table tennis in the quarterfinal matchup and to do it twice will be a tough task. If the two come up against each other here expect it to be closer this time around. Ishikawa has a similar head to head at 4-9. But lucky for Japan they have Mima Ito in their back pocket. So now for a bit of wild speculation. Japan is going to continue with the order they used against Germany. Mima will be stepping out on the court in the first two singles matches, and we will see Ai Fukuhara playing her match in the last two. This may seem like a crazy move after Fukuhara went through Feng like a freight train in the singles, but just wait and see. Japan are going to put their faith in the fifteen year old with the pocket rocket backhand.

Singapore will be orthodox in their lineup. There is no reason to change it. Yu Mengyu is playing within her ranking, but will be looking to upset world order in this medal match. Zhou Yihan needs to bring her A-game and will be vital in the doubles. She also has a good chance of being needed in the deciding match. Zhou has a strong game and is technically very solid. She doesn’t have any huge holes that the Japanese can exploit. She also has a powerful forehand that could prove invaluable in tight situations — strong third-ball attacks can be enough to win a match. Could she bring Singapore a medal?

Singapore and Japan were able to collect women’s medals in London 2012, but both are empty handed so far in Rio. There are four teams remaining and only three places left on the podium. Watch to see who will go home with bronze in their bags and who will only be backing their uniform.

Probably certain and certainly probable

The final of the women’s team event sees China up against Germany. The Chinese team are an unstoppable force. The odds of them taking gold? Well there is nothing certain in this world except death, taxes and China taking gold in Rio. They have three players who have all been number one in the world and each have won a World Cup. Apologies to the U.S. men’s basketball team, but the Chinese women are without doubt the strongest team in the world in any sport.

The Germans have shown a lot of guts fighting off Japan in the semi-final match and their place on the podium is not at all unexpected. They have been European champions the last three years, and a guaranteed medal in Rio is a well deserved reward for the German women’s team that has long been overshadowed by their male counterparts. They are now the pinnacle of both German and European table tennis, male or female.  Petrissa Solja, at twenty two, still has plenty of time to close the gap with China. This match will be a great stepping stone in her career. She is the drawcard in this match, and watch to see how she rises to the occasion, being the present and future hope of European table tennis.

Watch this match to see the imperious women’s table tennis of China come to its conclusion here Rio.

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Rio 2016 Rio Team News

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