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TT: China win men's doubles

By Paul Eckert in Athens
August 21, 2004 19:20 IST
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Top seeds Chen Qi and partner Ma Lin beat Ko Lai-chak and Li Ching of Hong Kong 4-2 on Saturday to take the men's doubles gold medal in table tennis and keep China on track for another Olympic title sweep in Athens.

The Chinese duo, with boisterous support from a large Chinese crowd, overcame a mid-match comeback by the third seeds to win 11-6, 11-9, 7-11, 11-8, 8-11, 11-5.

Ko and Li's silver is Hong Kong's first medal at Athens.

"The match was close because the Hong Kong team were well prepared," Ma said. "They are one of the best in the world and the biggest threat to China."

Earlier, Denmark's Michael Maze and Finn Tugwell beat Russians Dmitri Mazunov and Alexei Smirnov 4-2 for the bronze. The 16th-seeded Danes won 11-3, 11-8, 12-14, 3-11, 11-9, 11-8.

After the final, Hong Kong's Ko said: "We rose above our normal level."

On Friday, China's Wang Nan took her third Olympic gold, teaming up with Zhang Yining to sweep Lee Eun-sil and Seok Eun-mi of South Korea 4-0 in the women's doubles.

China won all the golds and most of the silvers at the last two Olympics in Sydney and Atlanta, prompting a rule-change to keep two teams from the same country from meeting in the final.

Nonetheless, China are still set to sweep gold in all four events for the third time in a row, with Chinese players going strong in both women's and men's singles.

Zhang, the world number one, will face North Korea's Kim Hyang-mi in the women's final on Sunday.

World number one Wang Liqin and Chinese compatriot Wang Hao will meet in the men's semi-finals on Sunday. In the other semi-final, South Korea's Ryu Seung-min will face 1992 Olympic champion Jan-Ove Waldner of Sweden, who took silver in Sydney.

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Paul Eckert in Athens
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