Chen Meng Interview on Her Mentors and Olympic Preparations

Chen Meng recently sat down with WTT for an interview on her Olympic preparations and relationship with several mentors. The transcript (in Chinese) and related images can be found here. We provide an English translation below.

Since when did you feel that you can take on the heavy responsibility of the competition?

Probably in the three competitions [All China National Championships, World Cup, ITTF Finals] after the pandemic restart in 2020. After these three tournaments, it felts okay, but it felt like something was missing. But I don’t know exactly what was missing either. But after these three tournaments, in fact, from my heart, my control, and understanding of myself, I felt confident that I could take it one.

Li Xiaoxia and Zhang Yining are your idols, who do you think you are more like?

Because the personalities may be different, I don’t think I can imitate them, but to be a better version of myself. If you try to imitate, you can’t imitate it, because personality, including some playing styles, are actually not the same. But the type of experience they have, because I usually go to some of their previous games, including the Olympic Games, I think it’s more to learn from their experience. When I reach the moment how should I better help myself get through this time. How to help myself shake off bad moments, and sometimes to learn when it’s good, how they conduct themselves when it’s going well.

Who would you ask to share their experience with you?

Sister Xia, because she belongs to the Shandong team! So I have been with her more since I was a child. Generally, I would ask her for some advice, including now more often from Director Ma [Ma Lin]. Because they all have this kind of experience in the Olympic Games, and they are all successful experiences. So I will learn from them, including preparing for the battle, including what kind of feeling it will be at the Olympics. I will often ask them.

Are you ready for the Olympics?

At the beginning, I was thinking that I haven’t participated, so there were some areas that I felt worried about. But when I think about it later, in fact, I think everything has its pros and cons. Because I have never participated, I am full of expectations for the Olympics, and I am very excited. So in terms of preparing for the battle, I think it will feel fresh. In fact, I feel that this kind of Olympic Games during the pandemic is the first time for everyone, and they have never experienced it. In fact, everyone is the same.

Can you imagine what it’s like on the Olympic Games?

Actually if you ask me to think about it, I really can’t imagine what it looks like. But I went to talk to Director Ma, and he would tell me what it’s like in the Olympics. What he said to me is that you will feel that the surrounding environment will bring you a very nervous atmosphere, because everyone wants to play well and want to win the championship. It’s actually a competition, but the layout of the venue is all five rings. So it always gives you a feeling of excitement and pressure. In fact, he said that as long as people want to fight well, everyone is actually under the same pressure.

And the errors in this environment, it’s not like your usual errors where they don’t matter. Then you feel that everything must be cared for and cherished. However, when he told me this feeling, I didn’t really understand it at first. But after telling me many times, and even after I watched some games, I can actually feel a little bit like this. But I think I have to feel it myself. Prepare yourself, and then make yourself stronger, and then when you face all your opponents at the competition, you will not be scared.

How will the pressure be relieved?

I usually like to talk about it when I am under pressure. I think talking, finding someone who I trust and talking, I think saying it out loud is actually a good kind of release for me. And I don’t like to make myself heavy. I like to be in a relatively relaxed and happy state.

Is there a group of relatives and friends around you, probably a few people, who frequently answer your calls?

Yes, of course.

About four or five?

There aren’t that many. Actually, there are only two of them. I don’t think there are too many people you want to talk to. As long as they understand you and can listen, I think it’s actually enough. If you just listen to what I have been saying, I can speak for about 30 minutes. As far as I am concerned, I am actually quite fast in resolving stress. As long as I am uncomfortable, in fact, as long as I say it, I will feel a lot more comfortable. And I won’t have so many distracting thoughts.

What does the Olympics mean to you?

I think it is a manifestation of personal values. Because I think as an athlete, in fact, I think the best stage for you to show yourself is in the Olympics. It gives me the feeling that all eyes are on me. So I hope I can really show my best mental state and competitive state in just a few days. In fact, I think I really think too much, it’s really so useless. When it’s really time, you have done your best, you have prepared what you should prepare, and you have done what you should do. At that point, you can show yourself, you just need to do your best.

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