by Matt Solt
In London four years ago, in the opening round of the Men’s Team event against Russia, Ma Long and Wang Hao lost to Alexey Smirnov and Kirill Skachkov; later in the semi-final clash in opposition to Germany Zhang Jike was beaten by Timo Boll.
A third consecutive Men’s Team title for China, nothing new but history was made in Rio de Janeiro.
Notably, the Women’s Singles final between Ding Ning and Li Xiaoxia was the first Olympic final contested in seven games, whilst Nigeria’s Quadri Aruna became the first player from Africa to reach the quarter-final stage of any Olympic Games table tennis competition.
Overall, 22.5 per cent of men’s matches went to a deciding game, more than the 19.5 per cent of women’s matches.
The longest match calcculated by points was between Luxembourg’s Ni Xialian and Brazil’s Caroline Kumahara in the first round of the Women’s Singles event; a total of 150 points (12-10, 14-16, 8-11, 9-11, 11-8, 11-3, 14-12).
In the team events a new Olympic record was set for most games played. In the opening round Men’s Team contest between Great Britain and France all five matches were decided in five games.
Also in terms of longevity a record was set in the Men’s Singles event; the opening game between Germany’s Dimitrij Ovtcharov and Slovenia’s Bojan Tokic went in favour of the latter 33-31; the game last 26 minutes.
Conversely, the shortest matches in the individual events came in the Women’s Singles competition, both 53 points. In the qualification round Mexico’s Yadira Silva beat Syria’s Heba Allejji (11-2, 11-1, 11-2, 11-4), later at the semi-final stage Li Xiaoxia dominated matters against Japan’s Ai Fukuhara (11-4, 11-3, 11-1, 11-1).
Meanwhile ten new medallists were anointed.
Playing in his third Olympic Games Jun Mizutani secured Men’s Singles bronze and Men’s Team silver. Likewise, it was Men’s Team silver for colleague Koki Niwa on debut.
Meanwhile, competing in their first ever Olympic Games, there was Women’s Singles bronze for DPR Korea’s Kim Song I; whilst in the Men’s Team event there was gold for Xu Xin, silver for Japan’s Maharu Yoshimura.
Likewise on debut there Women’s Team gold was secured by China’s Liu Shiwen, there was silver for the German trio of Han Ying, Petrissa Solja and Shan Xiaona plus bronze for Japan’s Mima Ito.
Youngest and Oldest
Aged 15 years, nine months and three days, Mima Ito became the youngest ever medallist in the team events at an Olympic Games. Germany’s Timo Boll at 33 years five months and ten days became the oldest.
Matches, Games, Points
The most common game score was 11-9 (16 per cent of all matches).
Overall 258 matches were played; the overall total in Olympic history now being 2,520 matches; in Rio de Janeiro, a total of 1,182 games were completed with 21,757 points enacted.
It means that in Olympic history since Seoul in 1988, 9,037 games have been played totalling and 236,394 points.