Japan received its first gold medal in table tennis mixed doubles as the host country’s team smashed China’s winning streak.
A surprising turn of events:
Jun Mizutani and Mima Ito bested China’s Xu Xin and Liu Shiwen with a 4-3 final score at the mixed doubles grand finals at the Tokyo Games on Monday, Associated Press
- The Chinese duo got off to a strong start, winning the first two matches 11-5 and 11-7. Mizutani and Ito eventually won the third game 11-8, the fourth game 11-9 and the fifth game 11-9.
- However, Xu and Liu won the sixth game 11-6, forcing a decider seventh game, where Mizutani and Ito took the lead 8-0 and finished the match with a final score of 11-6.
- The duo’s win marks the first gold medal win by non-Chinese players since the 2004 Athens Games, where South Korea’s Ryu Seung-min took home the gold, Yahoo! Sports reported.
China has been a powerhouse in table tennis, winning 28 out of 32 gold medals since the introduction of the sport at the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, according to Reuters
- Mizutani and Ito previously faced the Chinese duo multiple times at the ITTF’s World Tour Grand Finals, World Tour Swedish Open in 2019 and the World Tour German Open last year, where the latter won 3-1.
- “We’ve lost to China at the Olympic Games and at world championships numerous times, but we were able to take a revenge on all that at the Tokyo Olympics,” Mizutani said.
- The Olympics committee placed a limit of two men or women competing per country after China won all six medals at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.
- Mizutani took home the bronze medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics, while Ito is regarded as “China’s biggest threat” in women’s table tennis.