TOKYO (AP) — The host country knocked off a heavyweight for Olympic gold in table tennis on Monday.
Japanese pair Jun Mizutani and Mima Ito ended China's recent dominance in the sport by beating Xu Xin and Liu Shiwen 4-3 for the mixed doubles title. The upset comes five years after China swept all four table tennis tournaments at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games.
Hopes were still high for Japan entering the match. Mizutani won bronze in singles in Rio, and Ito is considered by some to be China’s biggest threat in the female ranks.
China got off to a fast start, convincingly — and quickly — winning the first two games 11-5 and 11-7. Japan fought back in the third game, winning 11-8, and then took two more close games, 11-9 in the fourth and 11-9 in the fifth.
China then won the sixth game, 11-6, to set up a deciding seventh game, which Japan dominated, taking an 8-0 lead and holding on for an 11-6 win — and the gold.
China’s table tennis team is so strong that Liu, the women’s world champion, didn’t even make the women’s singles’ team and is only playing team events.
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