After a thrilling individual round that resulted in China taking both the gold and silver medals with Japan taking the bronze, the individual rounds are about to begin in men's table tennis. Meanwhile in women's; the Chinese also won both the gold and silver, however the top representative from Japan ended up losing in the bronze medal match.
Men's singles a sign China still rules table tennis
Ma Long defeated fellow representative from China PR Zhang Jike 4-0 to win the gold medal. This time around, they will be working together to defeat team's in their path, including what will likely include the team from Japan.
After winning the bronze medal match, Jun Mizutani will look to lead Japan toward a gold medal in the team round. He will likely have to be a significant threat against China when they should meet for his team to have a chance at gold.
Women's much closer than men's with Japan emerging
The representatives from China PR may be going in confident that they can win the gold medal; but they shouldn't be if they are. While the China PR team does have the two top individual players, anything can happen once the matches start. The China PR team will certainly be the favorite, however after a great finals in London, UK between the two teams at the 2012 Olympics, it should set up for an entertaining finals between the two teams this year once again.
Ding Ning and Li Xiaoxia did win the silver and gold in individual's but will they help lead their team to yet another gold medal in the team finals?
Blast to the past- the rivalry between China and Japan
Unfortunately, at the last Olympics in London, UK the two teams didn't meet in the men's side after Japan was upset by Hong Kong 3-2. At the time, China had three of the top four players in the world on the men's side in Jike, Long, and Wang Hao. Japan was lead by Mizutani, and also had Koki Niwa and Seiya Kishikawa at the time. On the women's side, Japan entered London's games with Ai Fukuhara, Kasumi Ishikawa and Sayaka Hirano. China went to London with Ning, Xiaoxia, and Guo Yue.
Now, four years after London in Rio, the Chinese have Long and Jike joined by Xu Xin for the team final on the men's side. On the women's side they have Ning, Xiaoxia, and Liu Shiwen.
The Japan team lineups have stayed relatively the same also, with Mizutani and Niwa returning and Maharu Yoshimura on the men's side. On the women's side; Fukuhara, Ishikawa and Mima Ito will be representing Japan with Ito being the only newcomer.
Does Japan have a chance to take gold from China?
While the games still need to be played, it seems unlikely that Japan will be able to win the gold on the men's side. China's dominance in the sport will likely continue unless Japan surprises with a strong performance vs. China in what looks to be an entertaining match if it does happen.
After having both of their individuals place gold and silver earlier in Rio, it seems unlikely that even a talented team from Japan could knock off the Chinese from the top spot on the women's side either. While the team from Japan does have the best chance, it would take an extraordinary effort from newcomer Mima Ito and would take a lot for Fukuhara and Ishikawa to knock the Chinese down to Silver.