Hong Kong table tennis player Wong Chun-ting is back on track after a disappointing performance at the Rio Olympic Games. He won his first World Cup medal after claiming third place in Saarbrücken, Germany, on Monday.
Wong, who lost in the fourth round in Rio this summer, was beaten by world number three Xu Xin of China in the semi-finals in Germany. But he hit back hard, crushing Kristian Karlsson of Sweden 4-1 (8-11, 12-10, 11-6, 11-9, 11-7) in the play-off for bronze medal.
This was the first time a men’s player had won a World Cup medal for Hong Kong following Tie Yana and Jiang Huajun’s silver medals in the women’s event.
“Kristian is a very strong player and that made it very hard for me,” said Wong, who reached a career high of world number seven this month.
“I am happy with this title being my first medal in the singles event of a major world tournament. Also, winning a medal on my first World Cup appearance is a good outing for me.”
In the gold medal match, 19-year-old Fan Zhendong beat compatriot Xu 4-1 (11-5, 11-6, 11-8, 7-11, 12-10) to clinch his first-ever world title success. Fan, strongly tipped as a potential gold medallist at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics after not being selected for the Rio Games, blew his teammate away in front of a capacity crowd.
“This is a big win for me, it’s my first senior world title trophy. It feels fantastic to win such a big event, I don’t know what to say,” said Fan, the 2014 Youth Olympic champion.
“My next goal is to keep improving. I want to be world number one, world and Olympic champion. I want to be the best. But for now I will just enjoy this victory and then start training again to get better and better.”
Now number two in the world despite his tender years, Fan shocked reigning Olympic champion Ma Long to win the China Open last month. Ma missed the World Cup due to injury.