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Reflections: Wang Liqin for the first time

Monday 03 May

Both men’s team and women’s team titles secured at the 2001 World Championships in Osaka at the conclusion of play on Sunday 29th April, immediately success followed success for China in the individual events.

They added all five titles available and thus left the Japanese city with a full house; the third time they had achieved the feat. Previously they had completed the clean sweep in 1981 in Novi Sad and in 1995 in Tianjin.

However, for one player, 20 years ago, it was a first, for the first of what was to prove three occasions, Wang Liqin claimed the men’s singles title; an event that underlined the dominance of Asia.

After recording a straight games opening round win against Singapore’s Zhang Tai Yong, Wang Liqin accounted for Japan’s Shinnosuke Kiho (21-11, 21-14, 16-21, 21-19) and Poland’s Lucjan Blaszczyk (21-13, 21-18, 16-21, 12-21, 21-10) to reach the fourth round where he faced Sweden’s Jörgen Persson, the player who one year earlier in the World Team Championships in the Malaysian capital city of Kuala Lumpur, had proved the nemesis of China. He had emerged the pivotal player in a 3-2 success beating both Kong Linghui and Liu Guoliang.

In Osaka, Wang Liqin recorded a four games win (20-22, 21-17, 21-16, 21-17), before accounting for Chinese Taipei’s Chiang Peng-Lung (21-13, 24-22, 21-14) and Korea Republic’s Kim Taeksoo (15-21, 21-14, 21-16, 21-13) to reach the final where colleague Kong Linghui awaited.

The reigning Olympic champion, Kong Linghui started the favourite, especially after he comfortably won the opening two games; to his credit Wang Liqin responded, he won the next three to secure the title (11-21, 11-21, 21-16, 21-13, 21-13).

Success for Wang Liqin in an event where Asia ruled supreme, the only player from another continent to reach the quarter-finals was Vladimir Samsonov of Belarus. He was beaten by Kong Linghui (21-15, 21-10, 11-21, 22-20).

In addition to the last eight successes of Kong Linghui and Wang Liqin, Chinese Taipei’s Chiang Peng-Lung beat Liu Guoliang (12-21, 21-17, 21-16, 21-19), Ma Lin ousted colleague Liu Guozheng (21-19, 21-13, 10-21, 14-21, 21-19) to ensure an all Chinese semi-final.

Kong Linghui duly overcame Ma Lin (14-21, 21-17, 21-13, 21-15) but gold as in 1995 proved elusive; the top step of the podium belonged to Wang Liqin.

Editor: Ian Marshall

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