History has been made at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games after Japan’s Jun Mizutani and Mima Ito became the first pair to win table tennis Mixed Doubles gold at the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium on Monday 26th July.
In an extraordinary final which went the distance, Xu Xin and Liu Shiwen made an explosive start with the top seeds from China, claiming the opening two games in a decisive fashion. The host nation partnership of Jun Mizutani and Mima Ito formed the perfect response, winning the next three games to take the lead for the first time. Xu Xin and Liu Shiwen managed to level the match at three games apiece, but it wasn’t enough as Mizutani and Ito led Japan to new heights (5-11, 7-11, 11-8, 11-9, 11-9, 6-11, 11-6).
“I’m just so proud. We knew the Chinese pair were very strong, and we knew we would have to give 150%! Even then, we weren’t sure if we would have enough to overcome them. I really feel the Olympic Games is a special occasion. At the last Olympics in Rio, I won against Xu Xin, and now today I have enjoyed a second miracle,” said Jun Mizutani
Victory for Jun Mizutani and Mima Ito sees Japan claim its first-ever gold medal across all table tennis disciplines at the Olympic Games since the sport’s debut at the Seoul Olympics in 1988. It comes off the back of a thrilling quarter-final win which saw Mizutani and Ito save seven match points to beat Germany’s Patrick Franziska and Petrissa Solja. The result also marks the country’s fifth-ever medal, with two silver and two bronze medals claimed at the previous Olympic Games.“I’m just so, so happy! 0-2 was very tough, but I switched my mindset, and after that, I was able to play more to my style. I really thought I shouldn’t be mentally defeated. I felt a great deal of pressure at 0-2, but I knew I could overcome it with my partner. I just enjoy the Olympic Games so much because there are lots of unpredictable elements. Today’s match has convinced me that I can do good tomorrow,” said Mima Ito
China’s defeat in the final comes as a shock, with the country having won 28 table tennis gold medals at the Olympic Games, including a clean sweep of gold medals at the 2008, 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games. This defeat marks China’s first loss in a gold medal contest since the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, which saw Korea Republic’s Ryu Seungmin claim Men’s Singles gold.
“We prepared ourselves well for the final, but we just didn’t take our chances. They were very aggressive and put us under a lot of pressure too. There’ll always be pressure, especially in finals like this, and whoever can cope with it better will prevail,” said Xu Xin
“We have to move on and focus on our teams and singles events. We cannot dwell too much on this loss. We are confident of bouncing back and will not let this loss affect us too much. I believe Team China will come back stronger,” said Liu Shiwen
The Mixed Doubles bronze medal went to Chinese Taipei’s Lin Yun-Ju and Cheng I-Ching, number three seeds, following their 4-0 win over France’s Emmanuel Lebesson and Yuan Jia Nan, seeded eighth (11-8, 11-7, 11-8, 11-5).Lin Yun-Ju and Cheng I-Ching’s bronze medal marks Chinese Taipei’s third overall medal at an Olympic Games table tennis event, following Chen Jing’s silver and bronze medal finishes at Atlanta 1996 and Sydney 2000.
“Seeing Cheng cry, I felt very embarrassed. That’s also because I also felt like crying, but the tears aren’t flowing yet. I’m so happy, and now that I’ve won my first Olympic medal, I’m definitely feeling more confident in my upcoming events,” said Lin Yun-Ju
“I’m feeling very emotional now as I’m simply being overwhelmed. This is my second Olympics, and I’m so happy I’m able to win a medal on my second appearance. I also have to thank my partner, Lin. He’s so young but also very talented and outstanding. I’m very thankful for all the support my family, coaches and the team have given me. Our hard work has paid off,” said Cheng I-Ching
Mixed Doubles Proves A Major Success
Breaking new ground for the sport, Mixed Doubles made its first-ever appearance on the Olympic Games table tennis programme at Tokyo 2020, allowing the world’s best men and women players to stand alongside one another in the quest for Olympic glory.Regularly seen at the ITTF World Table Tennis Championships since 1926, the Mixed Doubles discipline was finally approved for Tokyo 2020 by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 2017.
The new event has provided spectators with a unique opportunity to see the sport’s finest in action with the allure of a fifth gold medal offered to the winning pair. Mixed Doubles at Tokyo 2020 has proved a shining example of how fairness and equality can flourish when traditional boundaries are challenged, with men and women working together to achieve greatness on the international stage.