Japan’s Ito and Mizutani Win Olympic Mixed Doubles Gold

Japan’s Mima Ito and Jun Mizutani defeated China’s Liu Shiwen and Xu Xin 4-3 (4-11, 5-11, 11-8, 11-9, 11-9, 6-11, 11-6) in the finals to claim gold in the table tennis mixed doubles event at the Tokyo Olympics. It is the first time a non-Chinese has won a gold medal in any table tennis event since Ryu Seungmin’s gold medal in the 2004 men’s singles.

Per a recap from Sina Weibo, China brought 20-30 people to cheer for Liu and Xu while Japan only brought around five or six table tennis players to cheer for Ito and Mizutani. However, as China won the two games easily, the Chinese crowd was apparently not quite into the cheering. When Ito started taking the serve returns more aggressively (as she likes to do when trailing), Japan was able to take three straight games, and when the chance of China losing seemed to be quite real, the Chinese crowd picked up the cheering in games 5 and 6.

While China was able to take back game 6, in the seventh game Liu and Xu both appeared to be playing conservatively while Ito and Mizutani swung to their heart’s desire for a chaotic match as Japan built an insurmountable 8-0 lead in the seventh game.

After the match, a crying Liu Shiwen stated, “I’m sorry for our team. This team [the CNT] gave so much for our mixed doubles. I really wanted to complete this task in this game. I wanted to leave it all out later in the game, but I am sorry to everyone.”

Liu Shiwen in tears after losing the mixed doubles finals.

Japan also received a major scare in the quarter-finals against Germany’s Patrick Franziska and Petrissa Solja, but they were ultimately able to eke out a 16-14 win in the seventh game after saving seven match points. With their victory, Mizutani and Ito ultimately fulfill Mizutani’s prediction back in June that they had a 30 percent chance at winning gold.

In the bronze medal match, Taiwan’s Lin Yun-Ju and Cheng I-Ching defeated France’s Emmanuel Lebesson and Jia Nan Yuan 4-0 to claim bronze.

Note: An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated that Japan saved eight match points against Germany. It has been corrected to seven.

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f you are based in the United States, you may also be interested in our exclusive interview with Kanak Jha and a tournament that Edges and Nets will participate in hosting in San Diego in mid-August.

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