China win in taekwondo and table tennis as US dominate medals tally

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China win in taekwondo and table tennis as US dominate medals tally 
Rio de Janeiro, Aug 18 (IANS) China pocketed a gold medal each in table tennis and taekwondo while the United States still tops the medals table at the Rio Olympics after Day 12.

China defeated Japan 3-1 in the men’s team final on Wednesday for a clean sweep of Olympic titles in table tennis competition for the third straight time, reports Xinhua.

It was the 28th gold medal won by China in table tennis since the sport was introduced at the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games.

World No. 1 Ma Long, who emerged the fifth man to complete a Grand Slam after being crowned the singles champion in Rio, scored two points in Wednesday evening’s final.

The 28-year-old started strong as the first positioned singles player, overcoming a mid-way blast and some netballs from the 22nd-ranked Koki Niwa, just 21 years old, to win in straight sets, 11-6, 11-9, 11-6.

To follow up Ma in the second game, Xu Xin, the sole penholder on the Chinese squad, stumbled against Japan’s top paddler Jun Mizutani, conceding the first set 12-10 and the second 11-9.

The 26-year-old world No. 3 reopened the game in style, leading 6-0 into the third set before letting go just three points of 11-point format.

After taking the fourth set at 11-7, Xu looked on course for a come-from-behind victory. But he blew two match points when leading 10-8 in the fifth and decider. Mizutani, ranked sixth in the world, served to tie 10-10 before taking it 12-10.

The following doubles match was intense as Xu, pairing up with another Grand Slam winner Zhang Jike, easily surrendered the first set 11-4 before pulling back 11-6, 11-9, 11-5.

Ma then came up on court again to play Japan’s 21st-ranked Maharu Yoshimura and just proved his flying form, rounding up the match with a 11-1, 11-4, 11-4 win.

Elsewhere, eighth-ranked Zhao Shuai of China won the men’s under-58kg Olympic taekwondo title by beating Thailand’s Tawin Hanprab 6-4 in the final.

Zhao, the bronze medalist in the 2015 world championships, led from the first score and had a 5-1 margin after two rounds. Hanprab reduced the deficit to 5-4 in the final round with a three-point head kick. But Zhao managed to stay calm and scored a point to hold onto his lead until the end.

“I am really excited. I wasn’t burdened with pressure because I was not considered the title favorite before the competition,” said the 21-year-old Zhao.

Japan was the biggest winner in wrestling, where they bagged all three women’s titles. Eri Tosaka edged Mariya Stadnik of Azerbaijan 3-2 to win the women’s freestyle 48kg gold.

In the 58kg final, 10-time world champion and three-time defending champion Kaori Icho won in dramatic fashion, scoring a takedown off a single leg in the closing seconds on Valeria Koblova of Russia to win 3-2 and become the first-ever four-time Olympic wrestling champion.

Sara Dosho came from behind to beat former Olympic champion Natalia Vorobieva of Russia for the women’s 69kg gold, wrapping up a golden night for Japan.

On back of the top performance in wrestling, Japan has lifted to sixth place on the medals table.

At the Olympic Stadium, the US’ Tianna Bartoletta won gold in the women’s long jump with a personal best leap of 7.17 meters.

It was Bartoletta’s second Olympic gold medal. She was also a part of the US’s victorious 4x100m relay team at the London 2012 Olympics.

Jamaica’s Elaine Thompson completed a memorable sprint double after storming to victory in the women’s 200m final, beating the field with a season best run of 21.78 seconds.

The 24-year-old 100m champion beat pre-race favorite Dafne Schippers of the Netherlands, who ran her fastest time of the season in the final but had to settle for silver.

In earlier competitions, Jamaica’s seven-time Olympic champion Usain Bolt qualified fastest for Thursday’s 200m final as he continues his quest for a third straight Olympic gold medal in the event.

The 29-year-old clocked 19.78 seconds, his best time of the year, to edge out Canadian Andre de Grasse by two hundredths of a second.

In men’s football semi-finals, Brazil smashed Honduras 6-0 and will play against Germany in the final.

Neymar earned the fastest goal in the Olympic history, enabling Brazil to get a chance to revenge Germans for their shock 7-1 defeat in the FIFA World Cup two years ago.

After Wednesday’s finals, the United States tops the medals table on 30 gold, 32 silver and 31 bronze medals. Britain is second with 19 gold, 19 silver and 12 bronze medals, followed by China on 19 gold, 15 silver and 20 bronze medals.

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