Table Tennis: Chinese extend their run of titles

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China won the women's team title for the 11th time at the World Championships in Manchester yesterday, whitewashing North Korea 3-0 in their 14th consecutive final.

With three players ranked among the top five in the world, the Chinese proved impregnable, emerging undefeated from their eight matches.

Deng Yaping, the 24-year-old world champion and Atlanta Olympic gold medallist, maintained her 100 percent record by beating the 17-year-old Kim Hyon Hui 21-15 21-14. The world No 1, sensing the nervousness of her young opponent, did not hit with her usual power and even let up in the second game when she led 11-3.

Yang Ying, the world No 4, had given the champions a winning start against Wi Bok Sun. But the 20-year-old was made to work for her victory in the opening set when she failed to read her opponent's heavy spin serves and was taken to deuce after leading 20-17. However, the North Korean could not maintain the tempo and Yang cruised to a 22-20 21-16 victory.

By the time Deng had made her entrance and then exited triumphantly, any challenge to the Chinese had disappeared as the world No 5, Li Ju, faced Tu Jong Sil, ranked 63 places below her. It proved too much for the Korean as Li swept through 21-8 21-14 to keep the Chinese on track to repeat their 1995 clean sweep of all seven titles with the men defending their crown in today's final.

"I am delighted to win this title again with these young players. It feels different, with fewer older players and more new young players," Deng said

It was the fourth time North Korea had lost the women's team final against China following defeat in 1979, 1985 and 1993. The North and South fielded a united women's team in 1991 and took the title away from China.