Table tennis icon Ma Long secures world title for China. ITTF

Table tennis legend Ma Long has etched his name into World Championship history one last time by leading China to a monumental 23rd Swaythling Cup at the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) World Team Championships 2024 in Busan.

In what marks his final appearance at the World Championships, Ma Long's outstanding performance sealed a commanding 3-0 victory over France in the Men's Team Final on Sunday, cementing China's position as a dominant force in the sport according to the ITTF. In a much-anticipated rematch of the 1997 World Championships final, France made an impressive return to the men's team title match after 27 years. However, their bid to upset the reigning champions was thwarted by a determined Chinese team, led by Ma Long in his farewell appearance on the big stage. 

The opening match set the stage for an intense showdown as Wang Chuqin and Felix Lebrun took centre stage to captivate the crowd at the BEXCO Convention Centre. Despite Lebrun's stellar performance throughout the event, Wang's skill secured an early lead for China. The next match pitted world number one Fan Zhendong against Alexis Lebrun in an thrilling display of skill and strategy. Despite a valiant effort from Alexis and a match point, Fan's relentless determination ensured victory for China, further cementing their dominance. 

China beat France in the Finals in Busan. ITTF.
China beat France in the Finals in Busan. ITTF.

With victory within reach, Ma Long produced a commanding performance against Simon Gauzy to end any hopes of a French comeback and cement China's supremacy in the sport. 

"Every World Championship is memorable for me, but this one is particularly unforgettable. After a hard-fought semi-final yesterday, the team had a reset and came out today in a much better frame of mind. I had the support of my team and my teammates and I'm really happy that I was able to help Team China win that one point and secure the title," said Ma Long. 

"At the same time, I've seen the growth of Fan Zhendong, Wang Chuqin, Lin Gaoyuan and Liang Jingkun, and I believe the team will only get stronger from here. I think this can be considered as the last event of my World Championships journey. It's a perfect way to end this journey with this victory," he concluded. 

China's triumph marks a significant milestone in table tennis history, and reaffirms its unparalleled legacy and dominance on the world stage. While France's silver medal signifies is a commendable return to form, it also reflects the promising future of French table tennis. 

As the inaugural ITTF World Team Championships held in Korea Republic draws to a close, we thank the Korea Table Tennis Association, the Local Organising Committee and the city of Busan for an incredible event. The attention now turns to Paris 2024, where the world's best players will once again compete for glory on the international stage. The 2025 ITTF World Championships Finals will be held in Doha, Qatar. 

The International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) is the world's governing body for table tennis and represents 227 member associations. Founded in 1926, the ITTF inspires sustainable growth for the sport through commitment, development and passion.