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Sunday, 4 August, 2002, 14:13 GMT 15:13 UK

Veteran Li grabs gold

By Mike Burnett
BBC Sport Online at the Table Tennis Centre

New Zealand's Li Chunli showed age does not matter as she beat someone half her age to claim the women's singles title on Sunday.

The 40-year-old battled past match-weary favourite Li Jia Wei 11-6 11-9 5-11 11-5 11-8 to deny Singapore their fourth table tennis gold medal.

It also marked revenge for Chunli's defeat to the 20-year-old in the mixed doubles semi-finals earlier in the day.

Beaten semi-finalists Jing Jun Hong and Tan Paey Fern claimed two more bronzes for Singapore.

From the start, Li Chunli showed energy and enthusiasm belying her 40 years.

She took advantage of her match-weary opponent to take the opening game 11-6 and then widened the gap in a more tightly-contested game, which she won when her shot clipped the net.

But Jia Wei soon came back into the match after a series of unforced errors by her opponent allowed the top seed to pull a game back.

Chunli regained her focus and, despite some desperate fight backing back from the young Singaporean, took the next two games for victory and Commonwealth glory.

The day was always going to be tough for Jia Wei, who had already played two matches before facing the Chinese-born Kiwi.

Li and Duan Yong Jun beat Chunli and Peter Jackson in the mixed doubles semi-finals in the morning and then went on to defeat Australian duo Brett Clarke and Lay Jian Fan for Singapore's third table tennis gold.


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