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Novi Sad: at last, never before and never again

Wednesday 28 April

At last, never before and never again, such was the outcome in the individual events for China at the 1981 World Championships staged in Novi Sad from Tuesday 14th to Sunday 26th April.

After finishing in runners up in the men’s singles event in 1977 in Birmingham and two years later in Pyongyang, at last Guo Yuehua won the men’s singles title.

In both Birmingham and Pyongyang, he had been beaten in the final by Japanese adversaries; in the former by Mitsuru Konno (17-21, 21-9, 21-19, 21-13), in the latter by Seiji Ono, being forced to retire at the end of the third game (25-23, 21-17, 18-21).

At the third attempt it was success. After ending European hopes by recording a quarter-final win against Hungary’s Tibor Klampar (19-21, 21-15, 21-13, 21-18) he accounted for Yugoslavia’s Dragutin Surbek (21-18, 21-15, 21-11) followed by success in opposition to colleague Cai Zhenhua (21-14, 17-21, 21-14, 21-16) to claim the title.

Gold for Guo Yuehua and also for colleague, Tong Ling, she won the women’s singles event. At the quarter-final stage she beat DPR Korea’s Pak Yun Sun (21-11, 21-9, 21-13), before overcoming colleagues Zhang Deying (21-15m 21-14, 21-13) and Cao Yanhua (21-19, 16-21, 21-17, 18-21, 21-15) to achieve was as never happened since at a World Championships.

She was a defensive player, in the past 40 years no player with such a style has won the women’s singles title at a World Championships.

Never again, there is also just a simple never.  In 1981 in Novi Sad, China added to the team event success by securing gold and silver medals in every individual event.


Tong Ling at the 1981 World Championships



Men's Team

Gold: China (Cai Zhenhua, Guo Yuehua, Shi Zhihao, Wang Huiyuan, Xie Saike)


Women's Team

Gold: China (Cao Yanhua, Qi Baoxiang, Tong Ling, Zhang Deying)


Men's Singles

Gold: GUO Yuehua (China) Silver: Cai Zhenhua (China)


Women's Singles

Gold: Tong Ling (China) Silver: Cao Yanhua (China)


Men's Doubles

Gold: Cai Zhenhua / Li Zhenshi (China) Silver: Guo Yuehua / Xie Saike (China)


Women's Doubles

Gold: CAO Yanhua / ZHANG Deying (China) Silver: Pu Qijuan / Tong Ling (China)  .


Mixed Doubles

Gold: Xie Saike / Huang Junqun (China) Silver: Chen Xinhua / Tong Ling (China)



It is the only occasion when all seven events have been held at a World Championships that the same nation, after securing team golds, has won both gold and silver in every individual event.


Moreover, unless there is some incredible decision that would produce a revolution, since 2001 in Osaka, team and individual events have been separate World Championships, it will never happen again!


Editor: Ian Marshall

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