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2008 Summer Olympic Games Preview - Table Tennis

From The Sports Network

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Table Tennis will be another high-profile sport for the home country of China in the Summer Olympics. The Chinese have dominated the sport since its inception into the games in 1988, when the games where held in Seoul, Korea. The men have won seven golds, including all five years in doubles, while the women have taken home nine of a possible 10 golds in Olympic competition.

China enters the Olympic competition off a successful World Championship where they were victorious, sweeping all five finals. Not to be overlooked will be the squad from Korea. Two-time Olympian Ryu Seung Min is the reigning gold medalist from Korea. His stunning victory in the 2004 games prevented China from sweeping all the medal events. ITTF Editor Ian Marshall recently told, that Ryu is the "most dynamic, most athletic player on the tour...The Koreans in general are the most athletic. They have a very strong emphasis on their training."

For China, it's all about one-two punch of Ma Lin, the former number one player in the world, and Wang Hao, the current top player. In 2004, it was Hao, who prevented the Chinese from a medals sweep after his upset to his Korean nemesis, Seung Min.

One player who could stand in the way is Germany's Timo Boll, who is recognized as the top player in Europe. Boll, who is recovering from a knee injury, is expected to be fully ready for the singles competition. The flashy lefthander has won all there is, with the exception of Olympic Gold and a World Championship.

The best chance the United States has for a medal stands with the women's squad. They will send two players ranked in the top-30, along with a newcomer to the team, Crystal Huang, who was actually born in China.

Chen Wang, ranked #25, was a member of Team China in the 1990s, but never competed in the Olympics for them. She left her homeland in 1999 and headed to the United States. She qualified for the '08 games with a perfect 8-0 record in the U.S. Trials.

Gao, who is ranked #27, has been a roll for the United States, having won her last 21 matches, including a 9-0 mark at the Pan Am Trials last March. Since the 2004 U.S. Olympic Trials, the veteran Gao has been practically unbeatable in National Competitions. She has appeared in seven tournaments since the '04 Trials and was 42-1. Gao is an Olympic veteran who was a silver medalist for China in 1992 in doubles. She left China for the United States two years later and won a silver medal for USA four years ago in Athens. Some of her awards include, gold medalist at the '07 Pan Am Games.

However, the woman's competition will be dominated by the Chinese Team, which has the top five players in the world, including top-ranked Zhang Yining. Zhang is the defending gold medalist in both singles and doubles. She was 20-2 in her five matches in Athens.

Highest ranking USA Men - Ilija Pululesku, ranked #157, Yinghua Cheng #240, David Zhuang #264, Eric Owens #376. Only Zhuang made the Olympic Team.

07/26 09:10:21 ET

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