Korea takes silver in men's team table tennis
Korea claimed the silver medal in men's team table tennis at the London Olympics Wednesday.
At ExCeL Arena, South Korea fell to the mighty Chinese team 3-0 in the lopsided final. Joo Sae-hyuk, Oh Sang-eun and Ryu Seung-min managed to win only two games against the Chinese trio of Zhang Jike, Wang Hao and Ma Long, all top-10 players in the world.
Zhang, the singles champion in London, is the No. 1-ranked player, followed by Ma at No. 2 and Wang, a three-time Olympic singles silver medalist, at No. 4.
Joo is the highest-ranked South Korean at No. 10.
In the Olympics, table tennis team competition takes a best-of-five format. The first two matches are singles, followed by a doubles match. The final two, if necessary, are also singles.
Each country has three players. In individual matches, the first to win three games, or the equivalent of sets in tennis, is the winner.
After taking the first two singles, China dominated the doubles, with Wang and Zhang dispatching Oh and Ryu in just 20 minutes.
In the first singles match, Ma also made quick work of Ryu in four games. The South Korean never won more than six points. Joo, after dropping his first game against Zhang, answered with a 11-5 win in the second game, mixing his signature cut shots with hard smashes. But Zhang easily claimed the next two games to put China up by two matches.
China has swept up all four table tennis gold medals for the second straight Olympics. The South Korean men improved upon the bronze medal they won in Beijing.
Ryu, 30, said he "really wanted to beat China, for once" in his last Olympics. Ryu walks away with the singles gold from 2004 and the team silver this year and the team bronze from 2008.
"I have no regrets; everyone on the team tried so hard and we really earned this silver," Ryu said. "Now I want to help younger players develop so they can win gold medals in future Olympics."
This silver is also the only table tennis medal for South Korea in London. The women's team lost to Singapore in the bronze medal match Tuesday. On the individual side, Joo was knocked out of the first round and Oh was eliminated in the second round.
In the women's bracket, Kim Kyung-ah advanced to the quarters before losing to Feng Tianwei of Singapore, and Park Mi-young fell in the round of 16.
The team events replaced men's and women's doubles at the 2008 Beijing Games. (LONDON=Yonhap)