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Wednesday, 30 August, 2000, 14:35 GMT 15:35 UK
Queen of the table
Wang Nan is going for double gold in Sydney
Wang Nan is going for double gold in Sydney
Queen of table tennis Wang Nan, who spearheads China's women's team, looks set to return home from Sydney a hero.

Seeded at number one in both the singles event and - in partnership with Li Ju - the doubles, the pony-tailed left hander is firm favourite to claim both golds.

She is a stable, level-headed competitor, an unassuming, no frills champion whose faultless all-round game humbly destroys all opposition.

Wang is undisputedly the world's top player, after winning both the world singles and doubles titles at the 1999 championships in Eindhoven, Holland.

Li Ju in full flow during a qualifying tournament earlier this year
Li Ju in full flow during a qualifying tournament earlier this year
She then earned the world team title in Malaysia in February earlier this year with two singles victories in the final against Chinese Taipei.

Deng Yaping won both singles and doubles at the Atlanta and Barcelona Olympics to become enshrined in legend but since her retirement, Wang has taken over as China's - and the world's - table-tennis queen.

The 21-year-old from Liao Ning province has been playing since the age of seven, honing her technique at the national training centre in Beijing.

The years of work mean technically she is almost perfect and her domination makes her the sport's equivalent to Tiger Woods.

Chinese domination

China dominates the women's game to such an extent that Wang's major Olympic rivals, the seeds from two to eight, are all China-born except for South Korea's fifth seed Ryu Ji Hye.

Eighth seed Tian-Zorner Jing and sixth seed Gotsch Qianhong now play for Germany, however, and seventh seed Chire Koyama plays for Japan.

Chinese Taipei's third seed Chen Jing even won Olympic gold for China in the women's singles in Seoul in 1988, but in Atlanta won a silver medal in the same event for her adopted country.

China have won every Olympic women's singles title since the first in 1988 and have only lost one doubles title, when South Korea's Hyun Jung-Hwa and Yang Young-Ja claimed gold in 1988.

As a result, few would bet against China, and Wang in particular, carrying off both women's golds in the first Olympics of the new millennium.

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