Host City: London, Great Britain
Venue(s): ExCeL, Newham, London
Date Started: July 28, 2012
Date Finished: August 2, 2012
Format: Single-elimination tournament. Top 16 seeds advanced to round three. Seeds 17-32 advanced to round two.
China had not been quite as dominant in the men’s table tennis singles event at the Olympics as they had in the women’s: although they too had swept the podium in 2008, they had failed to reach the final at the inaugural 1988 tournament, which was won by South Korea, and lost the crown to South Korea once more in 2004. Still, the nation had the top two seeds and its history of gold medal success in Olympic table tennis left them as the favorites for the top two spots. Zhang Jike, the reigning World Champion in both the singles and team events, was ranked number one while Wang Hao, the runner-up at the most recent World Championships and a two-time Olympic veteran with medals in the singles (silver in 2004 and 2008) and team (gold in 2008) events, was ranked number two. Wang was defeated in 2008’s all-China final by Ma Lin, but Ma had slipped in the rankings and a new rule from the International Table Tennis Federation, intended to curtail the nation’s dominance in the event, allowed for only two entrants per country in the tournament. This left Jun Mizutani of Japan, an Olympic veteran who had never won a major international singles medal, as the number three seed.
Both Zhang and Wang survived to the semifinals, but Zhang struggled more along the way. While Wang gave up only two sets of fourteen, Zhang surrendered twice that many and, in a fourth round match against Bulgaria’s ninth-seeded Vladimir Samsonov, was at one point behind two sets to three. Zhang and Wang’s opponents in the semifinals, eighth-seeded Dmitrij Ovtcharov of Germany and fifth-seeded Chuan Chih-Yuan of Chinese Taipei respectively, each fell in five sets, leading to the expected Chinese final. Despite his relative lackluster performance throughout the tournament, Zhang defeated Wang soundly and efficiently in the final, four sets to one, leading to an outcome that had seemed pre-ordained soon after the first set. The bronze medal match was somewhat more engaging, with Ovtcharov taking the first set and Chuan the next two. Ovtcharov then rallied, capturing the last three in mostly hard-won battles and earning the final podium spot. Although he had silver medals from the team events at the 2008 Summer Games and the 2010 and 2012 World Championships, his bronze in London was his first major international medal in the singles category.
|4||Chuan Chih-Yuan||31||Chinese Taipei||TPE|
|5T||Jiang Tianyi||24||Hong Kong||HKG|
|9T||Kim Hyok-Bong||26||North Korea||PRK|
|9T||O Sang-Eun||35||South Korea||KOR|
|17T||Ju Se-Hyeok||32||South Korea||KOR|
|17T||Paul Drinkhall||22||Great Britain||GBR|
|33T||Tang Peng||31||Hong Kong||HKG|
|33T||Luis Lin||32||Dominican Republic||DOM|
|49T||Kim Song-Nam||19||North Korea||PRK|
|49T||Suraju Saka||36||Congo (Brazzaville)||CGO|
|65T||Saheed Idowu||22||Congo (Brazzaville)||CGO|
|65T||Timothy Wang||20||United States||USA|