Olympics: Ding Ning wins gold in all-China table tennis final

China's Ding Ning celebrates after winning the gold medal in the women's singles table tennis final.
China's Ding Ning celebrates after winning the gold medal in the women's singles table tennis final. PHOTO: AFP

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - China's Ding Ning beat teammate and defending champion Li Xiaoxia 4-3 in a high-speed battle of spins and smashes to win Olympic gold in the women's singles table tennis on Wednesday.

The world No. 2, who left the London Games with a silver medal four years ago amid tears and a spat with the referee, fell on her knees and sobbed into her hands after she sealed the final point.

The two were matched game for game throughout, winning points by returning hard-of-reach shots, trickery and sharp smashes. But Li slid behind in the final game, losing 7-11.

 

North Korea's Kim Song I, who was playing in her first Olympics, took bronze with a 4-1 win over Japan's Ai Fukuhara amid loud cheers by her country's delegation in the crowd.

Kim hugged her coach and cried into her towel after her win, and ran off when reporters tried to approach her for questions.

The China vs China final reflected the country's continued domination of the sport.

World No. 1, Liu Shiwen, watched the match from the sidelines after failing to be picked for the singles event.

The country took all six Olympic medals in the men's and women's singles event in 2008, prompting a rule change to allow only two players from each country to compete. This, however, did not stop them from sweeping the gold and silver spots in London.