'Little Fatty' comes of age in table tennis sweep


Fan, nicknamed "Little Fatty" owing to his build, pumped his fist in jubilation as he beat Chinese team-mate Lin Gaoyuan 11-8, 11-5, 15-17, 4-11, 11-8, 11-6 in Jakarta.

Fan, who won silver at the last Asian Games in Incheon, said it was a "coming of age" gold medal -- his first in singles at a major multi-sport event, and two years before the Tokyo Olympics.

"The chance of playing a multi-sport event is rare for us because it happens only every four years, just like the Olympics," Fan, 21, told reporters.

"I think it's important to experience the feeling of playing such an event and being able to withstand the pressure to win is an important take away for me," he said.

The women's final was also gripping with Wang Manyu edging out former world number one Chen Meng to win her first major title.

Wang, 19, fought back from three-sets-to-one down to win 11-7, 5-11, 14-16, 7-11, 11-6, 11-8, 11-8 in a marathon one hour and 18 minutes.

"I'm happy with winning the title, it's certainly a confidence boost for me," said Wang, who produced her full array of attacking shots to subdue her team-mate.

"It's not an easy journey for me, and I would never have achieved what I have achieved today without my parents. They have done a lot for me, and I think this is a good way to repay them."

China had also pocketed the men's and women's team gold while Wang Shuqin and Sun Yingsha clinched the mixed doubles title as they went home with all five gold medals.

China have been the dominant force in table tennis since the sport was introduced in the Asian Games since Tokyo 1958, winning a medal at every edition.

In the men's singles, China have locked up gold and silver at every Games since 2006, and since 2010 in the women's.

The Olympic figures are even more mind-boggling with China winning all but four of the 32 gold medals since the sport was introduced in 1988.

Earlier, Noshad Alamiyan became Iran's first table tennis medallist since 1966 when he won men's bronze after his semi-final defeat to Lin.

"It's been 52 years since we won a table tennis medal in the Asian Games. I am very happy and proud that I could do it for my country," Alamiyan told AFP. 

"It is indeed a huge achievement."