Chen Meng defeated fellow Chinese table tennis player Sun Yingsha in six sets (9-11, 11-6, 11-4, 5-11, 11-4, 11-9) to win the Olympic women's table tennis gold medal on Thursday.
Nearly seven years the elder of the 20-year-old Sun, Chen has ascended to the top of the table tennis world in her mid-20s but had never competed in the Olympics or won a world championship. She has, though, won several other ITTF events, and she was the runner-up behind Liu Shiwen at the 2019 World Championships.
Sun was named to the Chinese team ahead of Liu and made an impressive run through the tournament, including a straight-set semifinal win against Japanese favorite Ito Mima, who took bronze with a 4-1 win over Singapore's Yu Mengyu to add to her gold medal in the mixed doubles that interrupted the run of Olympic gold medals China had in all table tennis events from 2008 forward. Liu played in that mixed doubles final against Ito and partner Mizutani Jun.
China maintained its grip on the women's singles competition, having won the event in every Olympics since the sport was added in 1988.
Chen, Sun and Liu will be teammates in the team event starting Sunday.