The table tennis team event at the Olympics had replaced the doubles event in 2008 and its inaugural incarnation had been won by China. One of the trio, Guo Yue, returned in 2012 to defend her title but, even with bronze medals from 2008’s singles and 2004’s doubles events and nine World Championship titles across various disciplines, she was the lowest ranked member of the new team. Ahead of her were the number one and three ranked Ding Ling and Li Xiaoxia, fresh off of their second and first-place finishes respectively in the 2012 singles category. The threesome’s combined ranking of 12 was lower than the ranking of any two of any other nations players combined, leaving them as the heavy favorites once again for gold. Second and third seeded were Japan and Singapore, who had finished second and fourth in 2008, sandwiching bronze-medalist and current fourth seed South Korea in-between.
There were few surprises as the tournament progressed. China dominated, as expected, never losing a single match and earned the Olympic crown in a final against Japan with remarkable ease. Singapore overcame South Korea in the bronze medal match, which left the top four rankings looking exactly like their seeding. Moreover, no team ever defeated a higher-ranked one, meaning that the eight quarterfinalists were also the top eight seeds. Of note was that only three teams, Japan, North Korea, and Egypt, competed without players of Chinese descent, highlighting the nation’s overwhelming prowess in the sport.