Taiwanese table tennis player Chuang Chih-yuan (莊智淵) fell short in his bronze medal match against Dimitrij Ovtcharov from Germany on Thursday.
The match concluded in six sets of 12-10, 9-11, 8-11, 13-11, 11-5, and 14-12, with Ovtcharov gaining the 4-2 win.
Chuang gave a stunning performance of skill against his eighth-seeded rival, but had difficulties maintaining the advantage. He eventually blew the lead in each set, costing him the bronze medal.
The sets closed with tight scores — most finishing with margins of no more than 3 points.
Neither seemed to back down as both players fought to clinch the lead.
Chuang lost the first set after making fatal errors, closing at 12-10 after the German player came back to draw the game at 10-10. He quickly regained composure to bag the second set 9-11. Chuang never allowed his rival to take the lead in the set, utilizing his skills to dominate Ovtcharov with surprise attacks and smashes.
Hope for a bronze medal rose higher as Chuang clinched his second set. He played defense against smashes from his opponent with equal prowess, before finally making a surprise “kill shot” that threw his opponent completely off guard. Chuang’s hollers rang throughout the stadium after Ovtcharov returned a spin shot from Chuang into the net, handing the Taiwanese player an 8-11 win in the set.
Chuang seemed to lose momentum in the fifth set, only managing to score 5 points.
His comeback in the sixth set was nearly as stunning as his performance early in the match.
But his great defensive tactics against Ovtcharov’s intense attacks seemed to falter, and Ovtcharov quickly gained the upper hand, as Chuang missed a couple of shots that proved to be costly. The game quickly came to a bronze-medal match point for Ovtcharov at 12-13, as Chuang made his last attempt at a comeback. The ball from Chuang went out of bounds after a short rally and the German player raised his hands in victory.
London is Chuang’s third Olympic appearance, after losing to world No. 2 Wang Hao at the Athens Games in 2004 and his surprise defeat in the round of 32 at the Beijing Games. Earlier, he had played rival Wang Hao in a semifinal match. Chuang lost the match, costing him a chance to win a gold medal.