Thursday, 9 August 2012

Great Reception for Timo Boll

The ExCeL Arena is in the redeveloped Docklands area of London

Hopperational details
Date & Venues
Wednesday 8 August 2012 at the ExCeL Arena, London
The Olympic Games – London 2012
Men’s team table tennis, bronze medal match
Fifth Olympic sport seen live, first time watching top level table tennis (even though I played the game at a moderate level in town and university leagues in my teens and is the only sport in which I have a trophy!)
Germany 3 Hong Kong 1
This day in one sentence
A bronze medal decider followed by a trip into the city to sample some of the general London atmosphere.
So what?
Germany has the bronze medal in this event.
The drama unfolds
The best-of five format has two singles, a doubles and then two more singles.  Each match is also the best of five sets – each set is played to 11 points with a minmum two-point advantage.

The opening singles brought out Germany’s Timo Boll and Hong Kong’s Chu Yan Leung.  Boll took an early grip on proceedings, was temporarily pegged back to 9-6 but saw through an 11-6 set win.  Solid in both attack and defence he won the second even more convincingly, 11-3.

Here’s a clip – it shows Boll (in the black kit)  putting the first point on the board for an 11-7 set win.  As you can tell, I was embedded in the German support.  Impressive stuff.  Germany 1-0 Hong Kong

Dmitri Ovtcharov played Peng Tang.  A closer contest, Tang opened up leads at 9-6 and 10-7, but a timeout seemed to work in favour of Ovtcharov who drew level to 10-10 and won his second set point.  13-11, as shown in this clip.

The second set was even closer.  The German had two serves at 9-9 but he missed a smash at match point.  Tang turned it around and won the set 13-11 to make the match level.

In the third set, Tang led in the early stages but a superb rally set up a set point for Ovtcharov, who had a simple smash to take the set 11-9.

This clip shows the German securing the second team point in an 11-9 set victory.  Germany 2-0 Hong Kong

For the doubles, Bastian Steger joined Ovtcharov and Tianyi Jiang joined Leung.  The Hong Kong pair wasted four set points before converting the fifth and a 12-10 set win.  A serving fault gave them the second set too, 11-8.

This clip from the third set shows Hong Kong proceeding to a straightforward 11-4 set win, giving them the match 3-0 and a point on the board.  Germany 2-1 Hong Kong

Jiang stayed at the table to face Timo Boll in the next singles matchup.  Jiang worked his way to two set points, and Boll’s serve clipped the net – he won the pont on his second serve.  A drive from his next serve clipped the net and missed the table, giving the set to Jiang 11-9 and completing the momentum switch in the match overall.

Boll steadied himself and won the second set convincingly, 11-5.  He also held his nerve at the critical points near the end of the third, which he won 11-9 after he had trailed 5-7 and 6-8.

Jiang took a grip, so it seemed, 7-3 but Boll got it back to 6-8 and then 7-8.  Here is the climax of the game, as Boll did the job and won the decisive set 11-9 to give Germany the match and the bronze medal.  He was the star man of the day and gave me a punning opportunity that I could not miss.  Final score Germany 3-1 Hong Kong

After that, I took the cable car from Victoria Dock to North Greenwich and meandered my way back to London to sample the atmosphere, first at Canada Wharf and then along the South Bank from the Tower to Westminster.  Here are a few snaps from the day – the high-level ones are from the top of The Monument.

Aerial view of "The North Greenwich Arena"

A Routemaster 'bus

The steps inside The Monument
One of many Wenlocks (and Mandevilles) dotted around the city

What Next?
FA Cup groundhopping at Sleaford Town v Holwell Sports on Saturday.

UPDATE: an out-of-the-blue attack of labyrinthitis (a viral inflammation of the inner ear) has put an indefinite hold on my travelling.  Will be anything from one to six weeks according to the www but hopefully at the shorter end for me as I have no other complications.  Watch this space, and cheer me up by sending me a Hopping for Moorfields pledge (see previous posts for details, esp. 3-2-1 Go!) - normal service will be resumed as soon as possible.

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