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Asia's new generation to fight for table tennis gold

Wang Liqin was bundled out of the Olympics table-tennis tournament on Sunday as the men's singles semi-finals confirmed the emergence of Asia's next generation of stars.
PTI | By Agence France-Presse, Athens
PUBLISHED ON AUG 22, 2004 08:09 PM IST

World number one Wang Liqin was bundled out of the Olympics table-tennis tournament here on Sunday as the men's singles semi-finals confirmed the emergence of Asia's next generation of stars.

Twenty-year-old Wang Hao showed little respect for the game of team-mate 2000 Sydney Olympics doubles gold medallist Wang in dishing out an 11-8, 11-5, 6-11, 11-9, 11-3 semi-final lesson.

After winning gold in Sydney and the 2001 world singles championships, 26-year-old Wang Liqin came to Athens as the favourite to win the singles title in what would most likely be his last Olympic campaign.

In contrast, Olympic debutant Wang Hao was the third and final name entered to represent China in the men's singles despite being ranked number four in the world.

In front of him were Wang Liqin and 24-year-old Ma Lin, the world number two.

But Wang Hao has outshone his compatriots with the fastest hands and showing few of the nerves that particularly Ma has said the Chinese team has suffered from as they try to maintain China's extraordinary dominance of the sport.

China has lost just 3 of the 16 golds on offer in both men's and women's events since the sport was introduced to the Olympics in 1988.

In the other semi-final, 22-year-old Ryu Seung-Min, the world number three, ended the exciting bid by Swedish great Jan-Ove Waldner to become the oldest player in the history of the sport to win an Olympic gold.

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