RIO 2016 OLYMPIC GAMES
Friday 20th May
Zhang Jike to Defend Olympic Games Men’s Singles Title
The opportunity arises to achieve what no player in the past as yet achieved; that is to defend successfully the Men’s Singles title at an Olympic Games.
Zhang Jike, who beat colleague Wang Hao to secure gold in London four years ago, will line up alongside Ma Long as China’s representatives in the Men’s Singles event at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
Ma Long gained his place by winning the ITTF-Asia Olympic Games Qualification Tournament; Zhang Jike secures his place by world ranking even though he is presently listed at no.4 on the global list.
He has been preferred to Xu Xin and Fan Zhendong; it is understood that Xu Xin will compete alongside Ma Long and Zhang Jike in the Men’s Team event in Rio de Janeiro.
Somewhat indifferent performances by his own very high standards had posed question marks as to whether Zhang Jike would gain selection; notably since clinching gold in London four years he has won only two Men’s Singles titles on the ITTF World Tour, both in Kuwait, in 2013 and earlier this year.
By comparison, Ma Long has won nine, Fan Zhendong and Xu Xin, six each; however, if there is ever a man for the big occasion, it is Zhang Jike, of that there is no doubt. The Riocentro in Barra de Tijuca is his stage.
A second chance for Zhang Jike, in a different scenario there is a second chance for Ding Ning; beaten in the London 2012 final by Chinese National Team colleague, Li Xiaoxia, she is named in the Women’s Singles event in Rio de Janeiro.
She has been named ahead of Liu Shiwen, even though the 25 year old has occupied the no.1 spot on the Women’s World Ranking since last December; the consolation for Liu Shiwen is that a place in the Chinese outfit for the Women’s Team event beckons.
Li Xiaoxia, who won the ITTF-Asia Olympic Games Qualification Tournament, has the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of legendary colleagues, Deng Yaping and Zhang Yining.
They are the two players who have defended successfully the Women’s Singles title at an Olympic Games; Deng Yaping won in Barcelona in 1992 and in Atlanta in 1996; Zhang Yining in Athens in 2004 and four years later in Beijing.
Meanwhile, major challengers to China, Japan has named Jun Mizutani and Koki Niwa in the Men’s Singles event, Ai Fukuhara and Koki Niwa in the counterpart Women’s Singles competition.
Now the next step is now to confirm the final line ups for the Men’s Team and Women’s Team event.
The table tennis events at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games will be staged from Saturday 6th to Wednesday 17th May.