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Saturday, August 21, 2004
Zhang Yining reaches women's singles final

Associated Press

ATHENS, Greece -- China is halfway to another sweep in Olympic table tennis.

Ma Lin and Chen Qi won the gold medal in men's doubles Saturday, beating Lai Chak Ko and Ching Li of Hong Kong 11-6, 11-9, 7-11, 11-8, 8-11, 11-5.

Earlier, top-seeded Zhang Yining advanced to the final of the women's singles competition.

Zhang and Wang Nan won the women's doubles title on Friday. Wang Liqin and Wang Hao will meet in a men's singles semifinal Sunday, meaning China is guaranteed a finalist in that tournament, too.

The Chinese have won every Olympic table tennis gold medal since 1992, when Sweden's Jan-Ove Waldner won men's singles in Barcelona.

Ma was seeded No. 2 in singles, but the 38-year-old Waldner beat him in the fourth round en route to a surprising semifinal appearance.

"All gold medals have the same value, but winning a medal in the singles has a whole different meaning,'' Ma said, through a translator "I did my best to leave behind the shadow of that loss.''

In doubles, Ma and Chen were the No. 1 seed, but they had to endure difficult, six-game matches in the semifinal and final.