China's 'Dictator' Ma Long Retains Olympic Table Tennis Crown
Muhammad Rameez 2 months ago Fri 30th July 2021 | 08:56 PM
China's table tennis king Ma Long on Friday became the first player in Olympic history to win men's singles gold for a second time
The defending champion has now won four Games golds overall, having also claimed team titles with his country at London 2012 and Rio 2016, underlining his status as one of the best players table tennis has ever seen.
Bronze went to Germany's Dimitrij Ovtcharov after he saved four match points in defeating 19-year-old rising star Lin Yun-ju of Taiwan 4-3.
Ma, whose nicknames include "The Dictator" because of the way he dominates his opponents, said that he had improved as the tournament went on.
"During the preliminary rounds I was never very satisfied with my performances, but after the quarter-finals and semis I was playing better," he said.
"In the last cycle, in 2015-2016, I was having a very good time, winning every match.
"In this cycle, many young, talented players emerged, they're very good, so I can say this time was very different." Ovtcharov, who gave Ma a real fright in the semi-finals, called his Chinese rival "not only maybe the greatest of all time (in table tennis), but among the greatest athletes in all sport in all time".
"He's an inspiration," the German added.
Kiev-born Ovtcharov celebrated a bronze that at one point looked to have gone.
The 32-year-old was facing defeat in the sixth game of his clash with Lin but he somehow clawed his way back to stay alive and then took that momentum into the decisive seventh game.
Ovtcharov, who adds this bronze to the one he won in singles at London 2012, put his head in his hands when victory was confirmed, shook the hand of the teenage Lin, then kneeled down and placed his head on the table.
The men's and women's team crowns are still up for grabs in the Japanese capital.