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Yue Guo (L) and Xiaoxia Li (R)of China competes against Kasumi Ishikawa and Sayaka Hirano of Japan during the Women''s Team Table Tennis gold medal match on Day 11 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at ExCeL on August 7, 2012 in London, England. Photo by Feng Li/Getty Images
Li Xiaoxia lives the Chinese dream in table tennis

25 Oct 2012
In the 19th and penultimate of our series ahead of the OCA Sports Stars Awards on November 8, China’s Li Xiaoxia is rewarded for her two gold medals in women’s table tennis at London 2012 – singles and team. It was no surprise that China should win the women’s singles table tennis gold at London 2012 – but it was surprising that Li Xiaoxia should topple top-seeded compatriot Ding Ning in the final.

Li said winning the gold medal had been her “dream since being a little girl” – a dream she achieved by beating the favourite Ding 4-1 in front of a capacity crowd of 6,000 at the ExCeL Arena. “We are at the same level but today I performed better than expected," she said at the time of her success. "I would like to thank my parents. They have sacrificed a lot to make my dreams come true."

Li, 24, from Liaoning province in north-east China, has been known in China as "Ms. No. 2," partly for matches she has lost to Ding, but an Olympic gold medals has changed all this. “I'm very excited,” added Li, who started playing table tennis aged seven. “This has been my dream since being a little girl. I dreamed of being an Olympic champion.”

Li's display, which she ranked as the best of her career, was all the more pleasing given she lost in the final of the World Championships to Ding in Rotterdam last year. "This is the best I've ever played,” she added. “I think most of the people expected Ding to win because she's been winning well in the last few matches. Today I matched her level.

I was determined to win and I didn't back down. After all, the Olympics is a chance of a lifetime.” Li, who plays for Shandong Luneng Lu’an Group, recorded a golden treble at the 16th Asian Games in Guangzhou, China, winning the singles, doubles and team events.
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