MA Long wins historic fifth Olympic gold in team table tennis final

TOKYO, JAPAN - AUGUST 06: (L-R) Fan Zhengdong of Team China, his coach Qiu Zhijian, teammates Xu Xin and Ma Long hold up their national flag after winning their Men's Team Gold Medal table tennis matchon day fourteen of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium on August 06, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images)
TOKYO, JAPAN - AUGUST 06: (L-R) Fan Zhengdong of Team China, his coach Qiu Zhijian, teammates Xu Xin and Ma Long hold up their national flag after winning their Men's Team Gold Medal table tennis matchon day fourteen of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium on August 06, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images)

MA becomes the first-ever table tennis player to win five gold medals, as People's Republic of China beat Germany to take the Olympic title. 

People's Republic of China have been crowned men's team table tennis champions after a 3-0 victory over Germany. The winning team, made up of table tennis legend MA Long, FAN Zhendong and XU Xin, beat the German team of Patrick Franziska, Dimitrij Ovtcharov and Timo Boll to gold with a final score of 11-7, 11-3, 11-9.

This was the fourth gold medal in Tokyo for People's Republic of China table tennis players and a seventh in total. The match also saw Ma beat his old doubles partner Boll, who once again goes home without a gold medal having now won two silvers and two bronzes in Olympic competition.

Ma paid tribute to the support the team had received from the people around them.

“For us to achieve this success, it’s just like the photo we just took," he said. "There are so many people behind us – a whole team.

"China has the best and the most people behind the scenes and this is the reason we have been able to maintain our standards.”

And when asked about winning his fifth Olympic gold, Ma said: “Everyone wants to get their best results at the Olympics, whether it’s gold or for their dreams, for all the years that they have toiled.

"The Olympics have always been an important juncture for me.

"I hope to remember all these beautiful experiences but I don’t think the Olympics is all there is to my life.”

Fan said of his gold medal: “I have to thank the team for believing in me and giving me this opportunity to shoulder this load. I believed in my teammates and myself.

"I believe we are the best. Our doubles pair always puts me in a good position.

"So even when I’m 2-1 or 1-0 down (in games) I’m able to focus on the match and not think too much about other things.”

And Xu was pragmatic about the gold he and his team won, while acknowledging the importance of the win: “I feel calm, nothing too complicated or particularly happy. The entire process was beautiful and worthy of remembering.

"We also met some difficulties. Given the change in the team format, there is more emphasis on the doubles match now.

"The importance of this point has risen a notch or two. Sometimes in doubles when you’re not playing well there’s a tendency to rely on your partner and that’s not good.

"So in this department I think MA Long and I did well. We are not over-reliant on one another. We dare to attack and trust each other.”