Table tennis: Rivals look to Rio to beat China
By Steve Slater
LONDON (Reuters) - Young table tennis players from Japan, Germany and the United States gave a glimpse at London 2012 that they could challenge China's Olympic dominance in the future, in a tournament lit up by a rocking atmosphere, Chinese brilliance and a one-shoe winner.
China swept aside their challengers to take all four golds in London, just as they did on home soil four years ago.
A silver for Japan's young, attacking women's team - the country's first in the sport - and two bronzes for Germany's Dimitrij Ovtcharov, 23, signaled the Chinese masters may not have it all their own way at the Rio de Janeiro Games in four years' time, though.
"For the future China will definitely be challenged by these other countries but it's not tomorrow, it's maybe another three or four years before we can see that new generation coming in," Adham Sharara, president of the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF), told Reuters.
There was a blunt message from China, however: rivals need to up their game and work harder. They can even go to China to help to close the gap, several officials said, recognizing that domination was not good in any sport.
"I think even the Chinese are getting bored of China winning all the time. They are waiting for a close match," laughed Timo Boll, Europe's top men's player.
Boll fell short of hopes in the individual event but showed the way by beating singles gold winner Zhang Jike in the team semi-final, although China still prevailed 3-1.
RAUCOUS ATMOSPHERE Continued...