LONDON — China won another gold medal in a sport it dominates like no other, taking the women’s team table tennis title Tuesday with a 3-0 victory against Japan.
Despite the loss, Japan won the silver for its first Olympic medal of any color in table tennis, which entered the games in 1988.
China has won three gold medals in table tennis at the London Games, along with two silvers. It could complete the gold sweep in the team events by winning the men’s final on Wednesday against South Korea.
Table tennis — the Chinese call it pingpong — is China’s national pastime, and the country has now won 23 of 27 gold medals since ’88, and is almost certain to make it 24 of 28.
With three Chinese-born players, the Singapore women took the bronze medal, defeating South Korea 3-0.
The Chinese women are even more overwhelming than the nation’s men. Only three women’s teams in the Olympics played without China-born players, or players with roots in China — North Korea, Japan and Egypt.
The winning team of Li Xiaoxia, Ding Ning and Guo Yue represent the new generation, all 24 or younger and the latest in a long line of famous female players.
Li, who also won gold in singles, is on course to match the record of several national icons.
Zhang Yining won four gold medals in the last two Olympics. Wang Nan won her four golds in three Olympics — 2000, 2004 and 2008. And Deng Yaping started the string with four in 1992 and 1996, and went on to be one of the faces of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
If anyone can challenge China’s women at the next Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, it may be Japan.
Left-handed Kasumi Ishikawa is only 19, and Ai Fukuhara is 23 and already in her third Olympics. The veteran is Sakaya Hirano, who’s 27 and in her second Olympics. Fukuhara started playing table tennis at 3, and is one of Japan’s best-known female athletes.
Japan’s women defeated China in the final of the 2010 world junior championship, a team led by Ishikawa.
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Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press
This story is from ESPN.com’s automated news wire. Wire index
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