History repeated itself yesterday, as Taiwan’s Chuang Chih-yuan again lost an all-important table tennis match to Germany’s Dimitrij Ovtcharov, ending the Taiwanese men’s Olympic run, as they only won two of their five matches in the team quarter-finals.
Nine years ago in London, Chuang lost to Ovtcharov in a six-game heartbreaker in the final game of the men’s singles bronze-medal decider.
Yesterday, the 40-year-old veteran was again defeated by the German, losing 8-11, 9-11, 7-11 at the Tokyo Metropolitan Gym.
Commenting on yet another loss to Ovtcharov, Chuang praised his opponent for his tenacity.
He also said that his fifth and probably last Olympic appearance went okay, but there is always room for improvement.
The only bright spot for Taiwan is 19-year-old sensation Lin Yun-ju, who beat Ovtcharov 3-2 in one of his two singles matches.
Team coach Chiang Peng-lung praised Lin for yet another outstanding performance at his first Olympics and said the team had done its best.
In Taiwan’s first match yesterday, Chuang and Chen Chien-an lost 0-11, 6-11, 6-11, 10-12 to Patrick Ranziska and Timo Boll of Germany.
Lin then won two singles matches against Ovtcharov and Ranziska, while Chen lost one to Boll before Chuang lost the final match to his old rival.
Yesterday’s loss marked the end of Taiwan’s participation in table tennis at the Tokyo Olympics. They leave with one bronze medal, won by Lin and Cheng I-ching in the mixed doubles.
The Taiwanese men’s and women’s teams finished fifth in Tokyo, the best showing for both squads at the Olympics.
Germany’s men are to go head-to-head today with hosts Japan, who defeated them in the semi-finals in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
“We lost to Japan five years ago in Rio, and we want to make it better this time,” Ovtcharov said.
“For Japan, it’s the most important match in their home Olympics. We’re also a little bit happy that the hall is not completely full,” Boll joked.
“But yeah, we will prepare like we always did, we give it our best and try everything,” he added.
In the 110m hurdles, Taiwan’s Chen Kuei-ru gave his best performance this season, finishing fifth in his first-round heat to qualify for the semi-final, which is being run tomorrow.
In the individual qualifier for equestrian jumping, Taiwan’s Jasmine Chen placed 47th. She did not progress to the final, as she was not in the top 30.
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