Japanese table tennis star Mima Ito suffered a semifinal loss at the Tokyo Olympics on Thursday with the women’s title now set to go to China once again.
The 20-year-old Ito, who already helped the host nation win their first-ever Olympic table tennis gold earlier this week, was soundly beaten by China’s Sun Yingsha.
The second seed overpowered a shell-shocked Ito, the third seed, 11-3, 11-9, 11-6, 11-4 to set up a gold-medal showdown with her compatriot Chen Meng.
Top seed Chen booked her finals spot with a straightforward 4-0 victory over injury-stricken Singaporean Yu Mengyu.
The 26th seed Yu, who has suffered longstanding back problems, needed a prolonged spell with the physio toward the end of her defeat.
China have won every women’s singles gold stretching back to table tennis’s Olympic debut in 1988, and they arrived in Tokyo seeking their fourth straight clean-sweep in the sport.
But Ito and Jun Mizutani destroyed that ambition when they beat the Chinese pairing to win the mixed doubles title on Monday, winning Japan’s first ever table tennis gold.
Ito will play Yu on Thursday night in the bronze-medal match.
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