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.
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!
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.
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.
Best wishes to Ding Ning in retirement!
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.