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Table Tennis: North Korea’s world champs win Asian Games gold

Kim Hyok-bong and Kim Jong added Asian Games gold to last year’s World Championships mixed doubles title. Photos: Korean Table Tennis Magazine.

Kim Hyok-bong (third left) and Kim Jong (fourth left) added the Asian Games mixed doubles title to last year’s World Championships gold. Photos: Korean Table Tennis Magazine.

October 3, 2014: North Korea’s Kim Hyok-bong and Kim Jong added the Asian Games mixed doubles title to last year’s World Championships gold after beating Hong Kong’s Jiang Tianyi and Lee Ho-ching 4-1 (12-10, 12-10, 10-12, 11-6, 11-6) in Friday’s final in Incheon.

 

The two other doubles finals were all-China affairs, with World No. 1 Ma Long and Olympic champion Zhang Jike winning the men’s, and youngsters Chen Meng and Zhu Yuling causing an upset to win the women’s.

 

In an emotional mixed doubles final at the Suwon Gymnasium, the right and left-handed Kim combination were cheered on loudly by the local South Korean fans who sang “We Are …” followed by the North Korea contingent adding “… One”, in a sign of unity between the people of the two countries.

 

The left-handed Kim Hyok-bong (left) and Kim Jong enjoyed an emotional victory.

The left-handed Kim Hyok-bong (left) and Kim Jong enjoyed an emotional victory.

Both players cried on the podium when their national anthem was played, as they did in last year’s World Championships.

 

“In 2013 when we became world champions, we got a lot of love from our people and we were very thankful,” said Kim Hyok-bong. “We wanted to win the gold medal here again to get the feeling of love from our people again, as well as repay them for all the support that they have given us, which made us very emotional.”

 

Losing semi-finalists Kim Min-seok and Jeon Ji-hee of South Korea and Japan’s Seiya Kishikawa and Ai Fukuhara shared the bronze medals.

 

Zhang won his first Asian Games men’s doubles title with Wang Hao at Guangzhou 2010 and the reigning Olympic and world singles champion retained the title with Ma when the ‘dream team’ beat Chinese teammates Xu Xin and 17-year-old Fan Zhendong 4-0 (14-12, 11-3, 11-7, 11-6).

 

Zhang Jike (far right) won his second straight Asian Games men’s doubles title, teaming up with Ma Long to beat China teammates Fan Zhendong, 17, and Xu Xin.

Zhang Jike (far right) won his second straight Asian Games men’s doubles title, teaming up with Ma Long to beat China teammates Fan Zhendong, 17, and Xu Xin.

“This match was the probably the best match Jike and I have ever played,” said Ma, the China team captain. “Throughout the match, we were in cohesion and communicated well.”

 

Singapore’s Gao Ning and Li Hu and Japan’s Kenta Matsudaira and Koki Niwa won the bronze medals.

 

In the other all-China doubles final, Chen, 20, and Zhu, 19, upset World No. 1 Liu Shiwen and Wu Yang 4-2 (12-10, 11-6, 8-11, 8-11, 11-3, 12-10) to win the women’s doubles.

 

“In the third game, I made some unnecessary mistakes because I was anxious,” said Zhu, a day ahead of participating in the singles semi-finals. “We then adjusted our strategies quickly to deal with our opponents combining attacking and chopping. This is the second year that we’re playing together, so we’re able to adjust very quickly. We are very happy with his important gold medal for our country.”

 

Kim Jong, gold medallist in the mixed, and Kim Hye-song, and Hong Kong’s Lee – silver medallist in the mixed – and Ng Wing-nam shared the bronze medals. China earlier won both the men’s and women’s team events.

 

Source: ITTF (www.ittf.com); Editing by SportAsia

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