By Henry Chen
“My requirement to myself in this Olympic Games is to fight for the team.” Zhang Jike said.
Zhang Jike was one step closer in achieving a new standard in the Men’s Table Tennis in the recently concluded Rio Olympic Games.
Having won two world championship titles, two world cup titles, and an Olympic Single gold medal, Zhang Jike was one medal away to completing two rounds of Grand Slam, something that hasn’t been achieved in the men’s division.
Zhang Jike reached the Olympic Singles final match and faced Ma Long in the evening of August 11. After four games, Zhang Jike settled with a silver and failed on his quest to defend the Olympic title.
The Grand Slam champ Zhang admitted in an interview in China that he also felt bad about his loss in the Olympic Singles. However, he knows his responsibility for the team and that is to at least reach the finals. For him, his performance in Rio was already an accomplished mission.
The final match between Ma Long and Zhang Jike was indeed a highly anticipated battle in the Olympic Games, after all they are considered to be two of the strongest players in the men’s division.
Their first ever encounter in a world competition was in the 2014 World Cup. Zhang Jike prevailed in such battle, proving that he can win over his greatest nemesis in the world stage final.
After two years, the two met again. This time it was Ma Long’s turn to prove himself and he demonstrated it in a commanding manner. Although it was a sweeping victory for Ma Long, his respect to Zhang Jike did not falter.
“As for the both of us, it was all worth it being able to encounter a great opponent like Zhang Jike on such occasion. Coach Liu Guoliang has said that there’s no winner or loser in such match,” Ma Long said.