Li defeated Ding on Wednesday 4-1 (11-8, 14-12, 8-11, 11-6, 11-4) in the all-Chinese 2012 London Olympic women’s singles final, clinching the gold medal.
China won 21st Olympic table tennis gold since the game was introduced to the 1988 Seoul Games.
“Today I met great obstacles in the match, not only from the opponent, but also from the umpire,” Ding said after the final.
“I used the towel to calm myself down after getting the service penalty. Then the umpire might think I used the towel at the wrong time and gave me a red card,” Ding said.
“As players, we need to adjust to the changing situations. But Xiaoxia and I are about at the same level. Such penalties affected my performance and made it difficult for me to control the situation,” she said.
“I’ve been using such services over the past two years and didn’t get any penalty, not even a warning. I don’t understand why suddenly the umpires (at London 2012) started to give me penalties and the penalties became increasingly strict.
“In the beginning, I got penalty for squatting service, but (standing service using) forehand is OK. Then even forehand service also got me penalty. Whenever I wanted to change my service tactics, I got penalty, unless I used the high ball toss. In the end, I felt there was almost no way for me to serve.”
Li Xiaoxia remained well-controlled throughout the game.
When asked to comment whether the penalties were too strict, Li said: “This is what competitive sports are. You have to face everything. I had expected that rules in the Olympic Games would be stricter, therefore I didn’t use any hook service in the game. I would rather lower my service quality than risk getting penalty.”
“Winning the Olympic gold medal is a dream come true. I’ve gone through pains and hardships to pursue the dream. But I finally conquered myself. This demonstrated that persistence brings success.”
“I dreamed of participating in the Olympics. I wanted so much to step into the Olympic venue under the watch of the whole world and prove myself.”