Category Archives: news

Ma Long Withdraws From Men’s Singles at China National Games

Ma Long has withdrawn from the men’s singles event from the China National Games due to the tight schedule following the Tokyo Olympics and mandatory 21 day quarantine. He will still play the team and doubles events.

Ma won the previous two China National Games in 2013 and 2017, and by withdrawing he will forgo a chance to win a record-setting three titles.

Translation of a Chinese media report below:

Beijing time on September 12, according to “Beijing Daily” report, Ma Long, who has won the Olympic champion, will withdraw from the singles competition in the National Games and focus on the men’s team and men’s doubles.

The Beijing team’s head coach Zhang Lei said: “After returning from isolation, Ma Long actively engaged in recovery and preparations for the National Games, but the entire time was too short. Considering the next National Games, the schedule will be intense, with team, doubles and singles three. After comprehensive discussions between our coaching team, medical insurance team and Ma Long, Ma Long will focus on the men’s team and men’s doubles in this game.”

At the Tokyo Olympics that ended in August, the 32-year-old Ma Long defended his singles and team doubles, becoming another Olympic “five crown” in China’s sports world.

In an interview after the game, Ma Long said: “I think I can still play, I can persist, and I can work hard to compete with young players. This is the mental strength I need most when I go down.”

But just after the Olympic schedule + 21 days of isolation, there is too little time left for Ma Long to prepare for the National Games, so Ma Long gave up the National Games single men’s competition and focused on the men’s team and men’s doubles.

But even if Ma Long did not represent the Beijing team in the men’s singles, the team is still strong. New and old national players such as Wang Chuqin, Xu Chenhao, Yan An and Zeng Beixun are all in the team. Among them, 21-year-old Wang Chuqin is the most promising. During the Tokyo Olympics cycle, Wang Chuqin beat Lin Gaoyuan, Liang Jingkun and other players to get the Olympic reserve spot, becoming one of the key players of the national team preparing for the Paris Olympics.

It is worth mentioning that in the last National Games [in 2017], Wang Chuqin, who was only 17 years old, lost to Ma Long in the men’s singles semifinals and finally won the third place, while Malone defeated Fan Zhendong in the final to win the championship. At the same time, the men’s singles championship at the 2013 National Games was also won by Malone.

This also means that this year’s National Games Ma Long will not be able to create a record of three consecutive National Games men’s singles.

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If you are based in the United States, be sure to also check out our exclusive interview with Kanak Jha and the $3K ASLT Oktoberfest in San Diego, California on October 22-24.

Table Tennis Stars React to Ding Ning’s Retirement

Ding Ning announced her retirement in a Weibo post yesterday and will begin studying at Peking University at age 31. Table tennis stars including Ma Long, Xu Xin, Liu Shiwen, Liu Guoliang and Ai Fukahara wished her the best. A translation of her post is as follows:

Reporting to Peking University today! From now on, I will be the Peking University freshman will “Studying Ning”.

There is no bound to learning, and I will continue to work hard! In the future, I hope to continue to contribute my own strength to the cause of sports and to everyone.

There are many wonderful things in life, and there are endless possibilities.

Starting today, my career as a table tennis player will come to an end. In the future, I will work towards new dreams and challenge new possibilities.

I have been with table tennis for 26 years, and every moment has been extremely precious: I started to learn to play at the age of 5 and knew nothing, I came to Beijing at the age of 10 to pursue my dreams, I competed for the country in the international arena, and won the championship in the Olympics and completed the “Grand Slam” [winning a World Championship, World Cup, and Olympic title]. I was the flag-bearer of the Chinese delegation at the closing ceremony of the Rio Olympic Games…

Ping-pong taught me to “keep a brave heart forever” whether at a peak or valley, the road to pursuing dreams has never had the words “easy” in it; nobody can be the general who always wins, no one is invincible when encountering failures and difficulties. Face it with courage; when you almost collapse and want to give up, choose to persist, and you will be able to reach the other side of your dreams.

Sports is more than just winning or losing.

Thanks to the great group of the Chinese table tennis team, the coaches who taught me along the way, and the teammates who worked alongside me, love you! I also want to thank my beloved family members, and fans. Your support and company have made me a better me.

Ding Ning wins gold at the Rio Olympics

Other top table tennis stars commented on her post with their best wishes:

Xu Xin: No words need to be spoken [A Chinese idiom]

Liu Shiwen: We’ve competed together since we were eight or nine. We will always be sisters! The future is even brighter!

Ma Long: Forever the captain, the future will be even brighter!

Ding Ning playing at a young age

Ai Fukuhara shared a heartfelt tribute post to Ding Ning:

Ding Ning, you are the most positive player among the athletes I know🏓️

After I finished a match with you, I asked you how I could improve, you explained to me from the first game to the last game, and the bus had arrived at the hotel 🚌 You still had not finished breaking it down to me word by word.

Then I understood why you could win so many Olympic champions and world championships.

I found out from you that people with strength will never hide themselves because they have strength, so they don’t need to keep secrets.

Later, before a match I saw you holding a cute umbrella☔️ I also jokingly said, “If I beat you, can this umbrella be given to me?” You said, “Of course no problem.”

I really beat you that time. You came over and told me “Ai, you played so well today, this umbrella is for you.”

Ding Ning, you are not only worth learning from as an athlete

All aspects of your character have taught me a lot.

Hope your future road will be smoother and smoother

You have already done the best in your table tennis career . You have won all the championships that are possible to win.

The second life after retirement is the same. I hope you will be even more successfuly.

I believe you can do better .

You will always be my role model.

Ai Fukuhara shares a picture of the Chinese and Japanese National Team

Liu Guoliang had the following to say:

I still remember that when Ding Ning proposed to me to retire, she was still very sad, and she shed tears at that time.

For her, I can understand her mood in particular.

Because as an athlete, I have also experienced the moment of retirement.

I also believe that Ding Ning made this decision after careful consideration.

I told her at the time that I hope she can make a good transition after retiring.

As an athlete Ding Ning has achieved very good results.

But then, as a ping-pong person, her real ping-pong career has just begun.

I think Ding Ning can not only in the Chinese table tennis team, but also in Chinese sports, and even in the whole society, convey the positive energy of table tennis and reflect her own values.

And I think Ding Ning has this potential.

So I think Ding Ning chose to go to Peking University to study and continue to enrich herself is a particularly good choice.

Because through systematically learning some theoretical knowledge, combined with her own practice, I believe she can usher in a gorgeous turn.

At the same time, I hope Ding Ning will continue to carry forward the spirit of the Chinese National Team and bring the sunshine and positive energy in her to her study life after transformation.

I also hope that Ding Ning can continue to improve herself and bring light to herself and others.

National women’s coach Li Sun had the following to say:

The biggest impression that Ding Ning gave him was sunshines. She was very active and devoted to table tennis.

Although Ding Ning has encountered setbacks in her career, she always faced the difficulties and finally won the Grand Slam. This is the return of her years of hard work and a manifestation of her own spirit.

Ding Ning’s optimism has always affected the team, especially after she became the captain of the women’s team. In daily training and life, she influenced and led the young players through her words and deeds and set a good example for the young players.

Ding Ning and Li Sun

Best wishes to Ding Ning in retirement!

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If you are based in the United States, be sure to also check out our exclusive interview with Kanak Jha and celebrate Timo Boll and the rest of Germany with us at the $3K ASLT Oktoberfest in San Diego, California on October 22-24.

Manika Batra Accuses Indian National Coach of Match-Fixing

Indian Olympian Manika Batra (WR 56) has accused Indian National Coach Soumyadeep Roy of pressuring her to throw a match at the Olympic Qualifiers (in March) to his personal student. The allegations surfaced in Batra’s response to TTFI’s (India’s National Governing Body for table tennis) claim that Batra brought disrepute to Indian table tennis by refusing Roy as a coach at the Tokyo Olympics. Manika Batra responded in a written statement that she would not be able to focus on her match if someone who asked her to match-fix was sitting in the coach’s corner:

“Besides the need to avoid disturbance due to his last-minute intervention, there was an additional and much more serious reason behind my preference to play without the national coach.”

“The national coach had pressurised me during the qualification tournament in Doha in March 2021 to concede my match to his student to enable her to qualify for Olympics – in short- to indulge in match-fixing.” 

“I have evidence of this incident and I am ready to present it to the competent authorities at the appropriate time. For asking me to concede the match, the national coach personally met me in my hotel room and talked to me for nearly 20 minutes.” 

“He tried to promote his own student using unethical means under the pretext of national interest. He was accompanied by his student who trains in the private academy not only run by, but also named after him.

“From my side, I did not promise to oblige him and promptly reported this matter to a TTFI official. I decided not to obey the unethical command of the national coach. But his intimidation and pressure had its effect on my mental frame and consequently my performance.

“During the Olympics, I wanted to keep away from the demoralising effect of such a coach. Because, as a player representing India, it was my duty to serve my country in the best possible way.”

Indian media so far appears to have been unable to reach Soumyadeep Roy for comment. More details can be found in this Zeenews report.

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Timo Boll and Dimitrij Ovtcharov Withdraw From Internal Olympic Scrimmage Due To Injuries

Dima Ovtcharov and Timo Boll are injured two weeks ahead of Tokyo

German media has reported injuries to both Timo Boll and Dimitrij Ovtcharov two weeks ahead of the Tokyo Olympics. This news follows shortly after Vladimir Samsonov withdrew from the Tokyo Olympics and then shortly after announced his retirement due to medical issues. England’s Paul Drinkhall will replace Samsonov at the Tokyo Olympics. A translation of the key information of Boll and Ovtcharov’s injuries is provided below.

European table tennis champion Timo Boll injured his hip two weeks before the start of the Olympic Games. The 40-year-old had to break off the internal test tournament “Tokyo Challenge” of the German team in Düsseldorf at the weekend.

“When I stepped forward, it hit my right hip,” said Boll. It is currently unclear whether his start in the Olympics in the individual and in the team will be impaired or even endangered. “We have to wait until the next week and hope that we can go to Tokyo with four healthy players,” said national coach Jörg Roßkopf.

For reasons of caution, the former world number one Dimitrij Ovtcharov also decided not to participate in the “Tokyo Challenge” final. “Yesterday against Dang [Qiu] there was a pinch in the knee, now my left foot is a bit swollen. I’m still healthy, but after the European Championships I increased my training schedule even further and am now at the limit,” said the 32-year-old.

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World Table Tennis News Roundup – 04/19/21

ITTF/WTT has made a series of pandemic-related announcements to their event schedule in the last couple weeks. We summarize the news in this post.

No High-Profile International Events Until the Tokyo Olympics

On April 8, ITTF announced that the WTT China Hub would not be happening until after the Tokyo Olympics. The implication appears to be there will be no WTT Europe Hub either. This means that there are no high-profile, star-studded international events until the Tokyo Olympics unless you really want to see Timo Boll vs Darko Jorgic in the Bundesliga finals.

China Plans Olympic Scrimmage on May 3-7

Although there will be no international events, China will be hosting an Olympic scrimmage on May 3-7. The event will also double as a qualification tournament for WTT China and the World Championships. Fan Zhendong, Ma Long, and Xu Xin are all expected to play in the men’s singles event. Ding Ning is unlikely to play as she seems to be out of the running for the Tokyo Olympics, but Chen Meng, Sun Yingsha, Liu Shiwen, and Wang Manyu are all likely to play. Xu Xin and Liu Shiwen are expected to team up for the mixed doubles event.

Here is some of the promotional material:

2021 World Championships In Houston, USA

The 2021 World Championships will be held in Houston, USA on November 23-29.

ITTF Announces Changes to the World Ranking System

As discussed on Table Tennis Daily, on April 14 ITTF announced yet another change to the world ranking system for Olympic seeding purposes, making our previous rankings analysis somewhat obsolete. The change appears to be largely driven by the postponement of WTT China. Notably, Mima Ito is now ranked below Sun Yingsha for the second seed and Lin Yun-Ju is ranked below Hugo Calderano for the fourth seed. Depending on the exact seeding rules used at the Olympics (at the moment, it is not very clear), this may influence China’s Olympic women’s singles selection process.

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Liu Shiwen Elbow Injury Update

Edges and Nets’ Instagram account provided a brief update on Liu Shiwen’s elbow injury that required surgery and sidelined her through the second half of 2020.

You can watch some full matches of Liu Shiwen and other players at the Chinese National Games on the 247TableTennis Youtube Channel. These matches may very well be the only glimpse we get of the Chinese National Team until the Olympics since they have withdrawn from all international events until then:

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Cover image taken from ITTF’s Flickr page, which sadly appears to no longer be active with the WTT rebrand.