Location: Galatsi Olympic Hall Athens
Table Tennis Final Doubles men;
Ma Lin / Chen Qi (CHN) - Ko Lai Chak / Li Ching (HKG)
The fist is clenched after each point. The eyes are closed, and a dark outburst of noise is heard. At every point.
It’s Chen Qi who would become the youngest winner ever of Olympic gold in table tennis. His partner is Ma Lin, at the time of Athens also still young, 23. We watch the two Chinese men play the doubles final in table tennis. The pressure can be felt in the stands. This is not just a medal match. It feels much more than that.
Table tennis is a Chinese sport, not? Well, diving into the history of the sport shows that it is, to my surprise an originally British invention! And they brought the game eastwards where it also arrived in China. I did not know that. But the whole world, especially in China, thinks it’s a Chinese invention. The Chinese win almost everything! In 2008 at home in Beijing the Chinese Republic won all (!) possible medals in Table Tennis; 8 out of 12 medals. The other 4 could not be won since in doubles they could only enter one team (the golden teams). And who are the opponents? Its Chak & Ching. Not from China since only one team is admitted per country. The two come from Hong Kong. Oh dear. Anno 2020 we understand very well the delicate relationship between the two countries. Another reason for the importance of this final.
How I just love to dig into the history of sports in combination with my Olympic photos and experiences. Some medals can be won but some can only be lost. And that was not an option for Ma Lin and Chen Qi. The more remarkable to withstand the pression of 1 billion Chinese on his young shoulders and simply get that victory.