by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
In an exhilarating final, a full distance two matches to one success was recorded against Spain; a contest that was to some extent a repeat of the 2008 Beijing gold medal engagement.
Eight years ago China had selected from Ma Lin, Ge Yang, Li Xiaolei and Chen Chao; Spain had fielded to duo of José Manuel Ruiz and Jorge Cardona throughout the whole proceedings.
Once again Ma Lin and Ge Yang appeared in the Chinese line-up; they were joined by a relative newcomer in the guise of Lian Hao. Meanwhile, for Spain Juan Bautista Perez joined forces with José Manuel Ruiz and Jorge Cardona.
Somewhat surprisingly, Ge Yang, who earlier in the tournament had won Men’s Singles Class 10, was resigned to the bench; Ma Lin and Lian Hao formed the selection.
“It is a disadvantage for me playing against a player of a higher class but it doesn’t really matter that much as I have been training hard to make up for the difference.” Ma Lin
Furthermore, they responded; they overcame José Manuel Ruiz and Jorge Cardona in close five games doubles contest (11-6, 9-11, 11-6, 8-11, 11-7) to give China the best possible start.
“Lian Ho and myself have been doubles partners for one year, so we have developed a good understanding”, Ma Lin
Spain replied with José Manuel Ruiz beating Ma Lin in four games (2-11, 12-10, 11-9, 12-10) to level matters; arguably the power exerted by the Spaniard been a telling factor. Notably he is a Class 10 player as opposed to Ma Lin who is Class 9.
Matters in balance
Matters level, the contest in the balance, Lian Hao secured victory for China; he beat Juan Bautista Perez in three straight games (11-6, 12-10, 12-10) but not without some moments of trepidation.
In the second game he trailed 8-10 before winning four points in arrow to turn the tide of the contest.
“The second game was crucial to our team victory; when I was behind in the second game, I knew I must not give up, I had to fight back point by point. Mentally it made me stronger and put me in a better position to win the third game; it definitely affected my opponent.” Lian Hao
Bronze for Poland
Gold for China, silver for Spain; it was bronze for Poland; one step lower than in London when Patryk Chojnowski and Sebastian Powrozniak had stretched Ge Yang and Ma Lin the full five match distance. The doubles decided the outcome after Patryk Chojnowski had beaten both Ge Yang and Ma Lin.
Patryk Chojnowski unbeaten
In the bronze medal match against France, once again Patryk Chojnowski was unbeaten.
He joined forces with Piotr Grudzien to win the doubles against Mateo Boheas and Cédrik Cabestany (11-7, 14-12, 11-8) before overcoming Mateo Boheas (9-11, 11-6, 11-9, 11-7) to reserve the third step of medal podium.
The third step for Poland, the top step for China, the tournament was over; a familiar national anthem played.