CHINA

Barcelona '92: China's First Olympic Men Singles Medal (Videos)

Barcelona '92: China's First Olympic Men Singles Medal (VIDEOS)
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Road to London 2012. Ma Wenge, Wang Tao and Lu Lin were the Olympic delegates of the Chinese Men Team in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. After a complete failure in Seoul four years ago, it was Ma Wenge who earned the first ever Olympic medal for the Chinese Team. It was not gold but bronze. The Europeans Jan Ove Waldner and Jean Philippe Gatien took center stage as they both battled in the finals. At the end, the Swede Waldner won the title.

Chinese Table Tennis Team actually started their Olympic journey with a sweep, not victory but defeat in the Men Singles. The Seoul Olympics was certainly a painful learning experience for the whole team.

After such poor performance, the current State Sports General Administration Deputy Secretary, Cai Zhenhua, assumed the place of the Men Team's head coach in 1991 with the top mission of revitalizing the team especially for the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, a possition he occupied until 2003 when Liu Guoliang replaced him as head coach of the Men's team.

After this change, the Chinese Men Team achieved a breakthrough in the Men Doubles Event. However, after experiencing the lowest point four years ago in Seoul, the first medal of the Chinese Team in the Men Singles arrived, but it was a bronze one. At that time, the Chinese Team's Olympic lineup was formed by Ma Wenge, Wang Tao and Lu Lin

Lu Lin was the first casualty of the Chinese Team in Barcelona. He lost two matches in the qualifying stage, failing to qualify for the main draw. This can hardly be seen nowadays. 

The second casualty came in the quarterfinals, when Wang Tao lost to the South Korean Kim Taek Soo. After that match, Kim Taek Soo was considered to be one of the most formidable opponents for Wang Tao. 

At this point, it was Ma Wenge the last player standing for the team. Actually, he played better and reached the semifinals where he met the world's top player at that time, Jean-Philippe Gatien of France. In their match, Ma Wenge failed in a tight five-set match. Eventually, Ma Wenge settled with the bronze medal along with Kim Taek Soo.

Jan-Ove Waldner vs Jean-Philippe Gatien - Barcelona 1992 Men Singles Finals
video kindly shared by gamlavhsband

Eventually, the Europeans Jan Ove Waldner and Jean Philippe Gatien took center stage in Barcelona as they fought in the finals. The top seed that time was the French Gatien. However, such edge did not give the slightest advantage for him in the match. In three straight sets, the Swede Jan Ove Waldner reigned in the competition and was hailed as the Olympic champion.

Jan-Ove Waldner's 1992 Olympics Campaign
video kindly shared by 74persson

All in all, this 2nd Olympics journey was a bitter-sweet one for the Chinese team. While Women's swept Gold + Silver medals in Singles and Doubles, the Chinese Men failed again on their quest for winning the Singles Event. It wasn't a surprise though as Table Tennis was going through the European dominance period of the early 90's, but China won't be forced to wait for so long until a first Men's Singles Gold medal which would be get by a new generation of brilliant Chinese players...

Photo source: def.kondopoga.ru

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The 1st WTTC was held in 1926, but China made their first appearance in 1953

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