The draw ceremony for the Rio 2016 Olympic table tennis event has concluded at the Riocentro Pavilion 4 in Rio de Janeiro.
Second seeded in the men’s singles event, reigning Olympic Champion ZHANG Jike (CHN) has ended up with a tough draw to defend his title at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
The world number four have been drawn to the same half of the draw as CHEN Chien-An (TPE), Stefan FEGERL (AUT) and Dimitrij OVTCHAROV (GER), all of whom have beaten him on the international stage over the past year. World number nine Vladimir SAMSONOV (BLR) who has also defeated ZHANG in the past, falls in the same half as well.
CHEN, who has only recently defeated ZHANG at the 2016 ITTF World Tour Korea Open last month, is set to meet the Grand Slam Champion in the third round of the men’s single event.
Best friends off court, and teammates at the Russian League, current and former European Champions OVTCHAROV and SAMSONOV are also expected to face off each other as early as the quarterfinals. The legendary SAMSONOV commented “Ovtcharov and I are best friends, and we are teammates as well, we know each other very well. But it’s competition, so we will all do our best to fight for a medal here.”
The German men’s team have won medals in the past two Olympic Games where the team event was held, but Rio will not be easy for them as they will face the strong team of Chinese Taipei led by world number seven CHUANG Chih-Yuan, followed by the winner of Austria and Portugal, both of which defeated them in the past two European Champions to claim Team Champions.
Top seed and hot favourite in the women’s singles event, China’s DING Ning will face few of the world’s best defenders on her way to securing an Olympic Gold, having LI Jie (NED) and HAN Ying (GER) in her half of the draw. In her previous encounters with LI and HAN at the 2016 World Team Championships and the 2015 ITTF World Tour Grand Finals respectively, DING had faced difficulties against both defending players, only to win by a narrow margin in the end.
DING who is known to be weaker against defenders, shared after the draw “It’s going to be a test on my ability against defending players this time in Rio, and I am fully prepared for it!”
Fans are in for a treat in the women’s team event, and could expect an epic clash between Germany and Japan in the semifinals. The two teams faced off each other earlier at the 2016 World Team Championships in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where Germany first beat Japan in the group stage, but the Japanese girls came back to avenge their loss in the quarterfinals.
The Rio 2016 Olympic table tennis event will be held from 06-17 August 2016 at Riocentro Pavilion 3.