Li Jiawei’s and Singapore’s hopes of winning a second medal at the Beijing Olympics came to an end when the 26-year-old paddler was beaten 2-4 by China’s Guo Yue in the women’s singles bronze medal play-off tonight.
The heartbreaking result is a repeat of Li’s performance at the 2004 Athens Games when she lost to South Korea’s Kim Kyung Ah in the third-and-fourth placing match.
Credit to Li though for putting up a tough fight against her Chinese world No 2 opponent yesterday.
The 20-year-old Guo had looked as though she would be running away with a straight 4-0 win after she took the first two sets 11-7 and 14-12. But Li fought back to take the next two sets 11-9 and 11-7 to tie the match at 2-2.
For a while, it looked as though doubts had start to enter Guo’s mind.
But the spikey-haired tomboy, who wore a black top with the intimidating fiery face of a golden dragon emblazoned on the front yesterday , showed that the loss of the two sets was but a small setback in her quest to ensure an all-China sweep of the women’s singles table tennis medals.
She reeled off stinging smash after stinging smash in the fifth set to lead 6-1 and 8-2 before wrapping up an easy 11-3 win.
It was the same story in the deciding set. Li, wearing a constant frown on her face, tried her best but had few answers as a pumped-up Guo sped to an 8-3 lead before smashing her way to an 11-5 win to end the match in 53 minutes and take the bronze.
Yours in sport
Singapore Sports Fan