Paris 2024: China gives table tennis legend Ma another shot at Olympic gold

Ma Long’s inclusion in China’s table tennis squad gives the 35-year-old a chance to win gold in his fourth consecutive Olympics.

Ma Long
Ma Long [File: Dylan Martinez/Reuters]

China’s Ma Long will get a shot at winning a sixth Olympic gold medal in Paris in August despite having been denied the chance to claim a third straight singles title at his fourth Summer Games.

The 14-time world champion, now 35, won team golds at all three of his previous Olympics and back-to-back men’s singles titles in Rio and Tokyo to become the most successful table tennis Olympian of all time.

Wang Chuqin and Fan Zhendong, who lost to Ma in the Tokyo final, were named as China’s entries for the singles last week but Ma was confirmed by the Chinese Table Tennis Association (CTTA) on Tuesday as the third player for the team tournament.

There were no surprises in the women’s team who will seek to continue China’s domination of the sport with the lineup for Paris identical to that which swept the board in Tokyo.

Reigning champion and world number two Chen Meng and world number one Sun Yingsha will again compete in the women’s singles and join up with world number three Wang Manyu in the team event, where China are also defending champions.

China have won 32 of the 37 golds and 60 of the 155 total medals since the sport was introduced to the Summer Olympics in 1988, and the competition for a spot on the national team is fierce.

The mixed doubles, a new event in Tokyo, was the one gold medal China missed out on three years ago and Wang Chuqin and Sun Yingsha, who top the world rankings, will pair up to try and end that anomaly in Paris.

World number four pair Liang Jingkun and Wang Yidi will be the substitute players for the men’s and women’s teams, respectively, the CTTA said in a statement.

The 2024 Olympic table tennis events will take place at the Paris Expo Porte de Versailles from July 27 to August 10.

Source: News Agencies