Zhang completes career Grand Slam by taking Olympic table tennis gold for China
Thursday, 02 August 2012
August 2 - Zhang Jike, China's formidable world number one table tennis player, stormed to glory in an all-Chinese men's final today to become the fourth male player in the history of the sport to achieve a career Grand Slam.
The 24-year-old world champion overpowered his compatriot, Wang Hao, 4-1, taking his nation halfway to another clean sweep of gold medals in its national sport.
Watched by a passionate crowd of some 6,000, which included the likes of Prince Philip and his son, Prince Edward, Zhang (pictured top) sprinted from the court surround to kiss the podium before adorning himself with the Chinese flag.
However, the occasion spelt heartbreak for Wang as his opponent's victory signified a third successive Olympic singles final defeat.
China has now taken 22 out of the 26 Olympic gold medals on offer in table tennis after Li Xiaoxia won the women's singles gold in another all-Chinese final yesterday.
"There isn't any secret," Zhang said.
"The Chinese and Asian people, their physical training is stringent and strict, but others can also achieve great success."
Responding to a question about his victory leap, he said: "Of course it was spontaneous.
"If you planned everything you can't play well."
Zhang saw off Wang's efforts with his flashing top-spin forehands, succeeding where women's world number one Ding Ning saw her downfall.
World number eight Dimitrij Ovtcharov of Germany took bronze after winning the third-place match 4-2 against Taiwan's Chuang Chih-Yuan, making him the first European on the men's singles podium since Sweden's Jan-Ove Waldner won silver at Sydney 2000.