TOKYO (Reuters) - German paddlers Shan Xiaona, Petrissa Solja and Han Ying, who won silver five years ago in Rio, are eyeing another team medal at the Tokyo Games after beating their South Korean opponents 3-2 in the women's team event on Tuesday.
Shan and Solja started strong in their first doubles match against Shin Yubin and Jeon Jihee, but eventually faltered to lose 2-3 to the South Korean duo.
Both teams struggled in close matches in the following singles, leading to a tie at the end of the fourth match.
But Shan regained control to seal victory against Choi Hyojoo in the deciding fifth match. The 38-year-old paddler let go a sigh of relief and wiped her tears with towels as her team mates rushed to embrace her.
"I'm so proud of my team mates," Solja said, as Han quickly hugged her. "We believe a little bit that we can make a surprise. We're not going to the match thinking that we'll lose for sure."
Shan, Solja and Han recorded the best ever result for Germany in the women's team event at the 2016 Rio Games and said they are now more confident compared to five years ago.
"We won so many titles together in the past years. We know we can reach anything. We believe in each other, even if one of us is not playing that well. We keep going and we want to win one more medal," said Solja.
In the men's team event, Sweden fought hard but eventually had to concede a 3-1 defeat to the host country, made up of Rio 2016 team silver medallists Jun Mizutani and Koki Niwa as well as world number four Tomokazu Harimoto.
Niwa and Harimoto pair led Japan to a good start by beating Kristian Karlsson and Anton Kaellberg 3-1.
But world number nine Mattias Falck managed to shift the momentum winning against Jun Mizutani, a mixed doubles gold medallist, with his strong yet stable backhand drives.
Harimoto roared his way through to defeat Kaellberg in the third match. His team mate Niwa scored a 3-0 win against Falck.
(Reporting by Eimi Yamamitsu; Editing by Lincoln Feast.)