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China's Zhang wins men's table tennis gold
Stephen Wade
02:25 AEST Fri Aug 3 2012

China, no surprise, continues to dominate the Olympic table tennis tournament.

On Thursday, Zhang Jike won the men's singles gold medal, beating teammate Wang Hao 4-1 in the all-China final.

Li Xiaoxia defeated teammate Ding Ning in Wednesday's women's final, which means the Asian power has claimed 22 of 26 gold medals since pingpong was introduced into the 1988 Olympics.

Dimitrij Ovtcharov of Germany defeated Chuang Chih-yuan of Taiwan 4-2 for men's bronze.

The 24-year-old Zhang was too much for Wang, who lost his third straight Olympic final. Zhang also beat Wang in the final of last year's world championships.

In his first Olympics, Zhang has been brash, predicting for days he'd win. He won a marathon first game 18-16 and hung on after Wang rallied to win the fourth game. Zhang closed it out in the fifth winning 13-11.

The two team events start next with China expected to complete its four-medal sweep of gold, matching Beijing four years ago.

The governing body of table tennis - the ITTF - has tried tinkering with rules to give others a chance. This time only two singles players are allowed from a nation - down from three in Beijing. That guarantees at least one nation other than China would win bronze. That added to the crushing pressure for the Chinese to deliver in what is the national pastime for 1.3 billion.

China men's coach Liu Guoliang, a double gold medallist in 1996, would like to see a bit more competition.

"I'd be happy to see the overall standard improve," Liu said. "But of course, I want Chinese players to stay on top."

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