Salem Radio Network News Thursday, September 23, 2021

Sports

Olympics-Table Tennis-Chinese paddlers Chen, Fan advance to semi-final

By Eimi Yamamitsu

TOKYO (Reuters) – China’s Chen Meng and Fan Zhendong, both first-time Olympians and world number ones, advanced to the semi-finals in the women’s and men’s singles on Wednesday.

Chen had to dig deep and fight back from behind to beat Hong Kong’s Doo Hoi Kem 4-2, as she campaigns to preserve China’s undefeated record in Olympic women’s singles.

“Once I entered the playing arena I could feel myself tighten up. I felt nerves, my body felt a bit heavy,” Chen said.

“When I was 2-0 down, although I was quite tight, I was resolute. I took it one point at a time. At the Olympics, until the final point, anything can happen. As long as I don’t give up, I can turn it around.”

The match was interrupted several times by the umpire ordering Doo to cover a brand on her shorts with black tape, which kept falling off.

Doo said the distraction did not affect her play, and was satisfied with her performance.

“I felt my performance was better compared to the last two matches that I played yesterday. I was able to exert all tactics that I had planned with my coach prior to the match, and I gave it my all,” Doo told Reuters.

“At one point, I had a chance to win – but the thought of winning distracted me from holding onto that chance,” she said.

In the men’s singles, Fan beat 29-year-old South Korean Jeoung Youngsik in a 4-0 sweep.

“I was able to play a steady match, as I expected. I knew that it’d be a difficult match since it’s against the world’s top-class player who has played at the Rio Games. I made sure to prepare by making adjustments to my tactics,” Fan told Reuters.

“A match is a match. For me it doesn’t really matter if it’s the quarter-final, semi-final or the first round, I just focus on that one match,” he said.

The 24-year-old said he had some unusual methods to “turn all the pressure into motivation”.

“That could sometimes be striking a pose, or talking with myself. I do things that make me feel positive on the spot,” he said.

Chen’s opponent in the semi-final on Thursday will be Yu Mengyu, a Singaporean paddler who beat Japan’s Kasumi Ishikawa in the quarter-final round, while Fan’s opponent is yet to be decided.

(Reporting by Eimi Yamamitsu; Editing by Stephen Coates)

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