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South Korean Ryu ends Chinese reign in table tennis

Ryu Seung-Min destroyed China's dream of sweeping all the golds in table tennis for a third consecutive Olympics with victory over Wang Hao in a gripping singles final.
By Karl Malakunas (AFP) | PTI, Athens
UPDATED ON AUG 23, 2004 09:38 PM IST

South Korean Ryu Seung-Min destroyed China's dream of sweeping all the golds at the table tennis for a third consecutive Olympics with victory over Wang Hao in a gripping men's singles final on Monday.

Ryu, the world number three, outlasted fourth-ranked Wang Hao in a relentlessly frenetic match in which the pair traded heavy topspin forehands to eventually win 11-3, 9-11, 11-9, 11-9, 11-13, 11-9 in 45 minutes.

Ryu's victory makes him the second South Korean to ever win an Olympic table tennis singles gold, following Yoo Nam-Kyu's victory in the men's singles in 1988.

South Korea's only other gold in the sport was also at Seoul when Hyun Jung-Hwa and Yang Young-Ja won the women's doubles.

Ryu had a chance to take the gold in the fifth set with a match point at 10-9. But Wang Hao stayed in the match with a backhand winner and eventually forced a backhand error from Ryu to take the set 13-11.

But Ryu did not let slip his second match point at 10-9 in the sixth set, using his trademark forehand to push Wang Hao on the defensive and eventually force a diving forehand error from his Chinese opponent.

As Wang Hao dropped his racket in disappointment, Ryu screamed out in elation, then sprinted to his coach and jumped into his arms.

With Ryu aged 22 and Wang Hao 20, the final represented the new generation of Asia's table tennis stars.

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