China’s Chen Meng defeated compatriot Sun Yingsha to win the women’s singles table tennis title at the Tokyo Olympics on Thursday, as the country reasserted its supremacy in the sport.
In a battle between the top two seeds and team-mates, Chen lost the first game before prevailing 9-11, 11-6, 11-4, 5-11, 11-4, 11-9 to grab her first Games gold.
Chen and Sun embraced at the end and then unfurled a large Chinese flag.
China, who have now won 29 of the 34 table tennis golds in the history of the Olympics, will add one more on Friday – the men’s final is another all-Chinese clash between the top two seeds.
On Monday, China were stunned by the hosts in the final of the mixed doubles, Jun Mizutani and Mima Ito’s victory bringing Japan their first-ever Olympic table tennis title.
But China, who swept all the golds in the sport at the previous three Olympics, took over the men’s and women’s singles draws on Thursday.
Ito, who had been seen as a threat to the Chinese women, was well beaten by Sun in the semi-finals and admitted afterwards that there was “a gulf in class”.
The 20-year-old Ito had to settle for bronze after defeating the other losing semi-finallist, Yu Mengyu of Singapore.
The 26th seed Yu, who has suffered long-standing back problems, needed a prolonged spell with the physio towards the end of her defeat to top-seeded Chen.
In the men’s semi-finals, China’s reigning Olympic champion Ma Long needed seven thrilling games to see off the determined Dimitrij Ovtcharov of Germany.
Ma meets compatriot Fan Zhendong for gold, but the top seed was also made to fight by Taiwan’s 19-year-old Lin Yun-ju, before emerging over seven similarly hard-fought games.