OLYMPICS/Lin Yun-ju's bid for historic table tennis bronze falls just short

07/30/2021 10:15 PM
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CNA photo July 30, 2021
CNA photo July 30, 2021

Tokyo, July 30 (CNA) History repeated itself Friday at the Tokyo Summer Games when Dimitrij Ovtcharov of Germany once again denied Taiwan its first ever Olympic table tennis medal in men's singles.

Taiwan's 19-year-old table tennis sensation Lin Yun-ju (林昀儒) had his chances in the best-of-seven bronze medal match, garnering four match points in a dramatic sixth game, but the German saved all of them and blunted another rally in the final game for a 13-11, 9-11, 6-11, 11-4, 4-11, 15-13, 11-7 triumph.

Taiwan's previous best finish in an Olympic men's singles had been nine years ago in London, when Chuang Chih-yuan (莊智淵) lost a six-game heartbreaker in the bronze medal match to Ovtcharov, 14-12 in the final game.

Lin had a better chance to break the dry spell, but he rued his inability to convert any of his four match points.

"I didn't feel especially nervous, but I know I didn't play some of those points right," Lin said.

The "Silent Assassin" as he is known because of his calm under pressure struggled out of the gate in the final game, falling behind 9-3.

"By that point, the momentum had shifted to my opponent, and all I could do was try to catch up one point at a time," he said.

CNA photo July 30, 2021
CNA photo July 30, 2021

He rallied for four straight points to pull within 9-7, but Ovtcharov closed out the match when Lin hit a backhand into the net.

"All I can do now is go home and figure out how to get better," Lin said.

His coach Chiang Peng-lung (蔣澎龍) said Lin was outstanding in his first Olympic appearance, that saw the world No. 6 teenager nearly defeat world No. 1 Fan Zhendong (樊振東) of China in the semifinals.

Chiang felt Lin did tighten up, however, in the latter stages of Friday's match because he wanted to win too much, but said that will change with experience.

"He has a big opportunity in the future, and will now look toward the 2024 Olympics in Paris," Chiang said.

Dimitrij Ovtcharov of Germany. CNA photo July 30, 2021
Dimitrij Ovtcharov of Germany. CNA photo July 30, 2021

The German praised Lin for pushing him to the brink, but said he stayed focused on playing hard rather than thinking about the results, which carried him through.

Asked about taking bronze from Taiwan for a second time in nine years, Ovtcharov said Chuang is very good friend and Lin is a teammate of his at his European club, but in the end, the Olympics are a competition.

He had no doubt, though, that Lin would break through in the future.

"He will definitely win a medal one day," the German said.

(By Lung Po-an and Luke Sabatier)

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