Tag Archives: liu guoliang

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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Liu Guoliang Looks Forward After China Wins Olympic Men’s Team Gold

Although Germany sounded optimistic going into their match with China, China defeated Germany 3-0 to sweep their way through the team events. Neither the Chinese men’s or women’s team dropped a single individual match en route to winning gold in both genders.

However, Ovtcharov gave China a brief scare when he took a 2-1 lead against Fan Zhendong, but Fan was able to stay calm and come back. As Liu Guoliang later remarked, if Ovtcharov had won that, then it would have been 1-1, which would have put China in an uncomfortable position. Based on Liu’s remarks, Fan will almost certainly be back in 2024 as a veteran presence.

Liu Guoliang already has his eyes set towards the 2024 and 2028 Olympics. He stated that while the women’s team is in a position of dominance given the youth of Sun Yingsha and Wang Manyu, the men’s team will need to make some adjustments heading into the next Olympic cycle as Ma Long and Xu Xin age into retirement.

Liu in particular praised Sun Yingsha as an idol and role model for the next generation not just in table tennis but all of Chinese athletics. He also praised Chen Meng’s dominance in winning two gold at this Olympic Games, hinting that she may be back for the 2024 Olympics at the age of 31.

Liu also acknowledged the veteran presence of Liu Shiwen and Ding Ning and the impact they have had on the National Team culture. He praised Liu for the journey she took recovering from elbow surgery last Fall, and said although they obviously would rather have won gold in mixed doubles, there is not much to regret since she came out, performed, and gave it her all.

Liu also reflected on his own journey in table tennis, noting that it was his seventh Olympic games. He quipped that when he was a player, he felt that being a player was the most stressful job. Then he became a coach and realized being a coach was the most stressful job. Then he became head coach and then director of the Chinese National Team, and each time he realized that the job was even more stressful.

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ITTF Responds To German and Chinese Complaints Over Olympic Court Sizes

After both the German and Chinese teams have complained about the size of the court, Chinese state media reports that ITTF has responded by moving the umpire tables back half a meter away from the table. However, they are unable to expand the size of the court due to wiring underneath the floor.

Both Xu Xin and Liu Guoliang complained about the small playing arena to Chinese state media several days ago. Liu said, “The whole playing space is smaller than usual… world competitions normally have areas measuring seven by 14 meters… I just measured it at six by 11 meters. There will be two referees’ tables as well which will cover a big area. I’m worried about athletes’ safety if they start running”

Xu stated, “We have been noticing the size of the playing area throughout. Several side serves hit the screen board (at the side of the court) and we were slightly affected.”

Liu also complained about the COVID restrictions, saying to state media, “We didn’t expect some epidemic rules like not wiping the game table with your hand, or blowing (on the ball).” However, it should be noted that virtually all of these same exact COVID restrictions were also in place when China hosted the World Cup last Fall.

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Liu Guoliang Downplays Expectations and Reiterates Need For Mental Strength Heading Into Tokyo

Liu Guoliang recently downplayed gold-medal expectations, reiterated the need for mental strength, and praised the internal Chinese scrimmages for the Tokyo Olympics. Liu made these remarks to Chinese media during a ceremony in which the Olympic dragon uniforms were revealed. Edges and Nets has aggregated and translated several of his comments below. Original Chinese media articles can be found here, here, and here.

Coaches Double Down On Mental Strength

The Chinese National Team has been quite consistent in emphasizing mental strength as the most important factor heading into the Tokyo Olympics. In addition to Ma Long and Deng Yaping’s recent comments, Coach Wang Nan stated that the players must have confidence in their abilities and preparations.

In Wang’s view, the Olympics are different from normal competitions. The players need to accept and adapt to the heightened mental stress, execute to their normal level under the stress, and avoid having the stress of the Olympics negatively affect their play. Maintain your technique, keep your opponent’s tactics and habits burned in your mind, and leave nothing to regret.

Consistent with his colleagues, Liu also emphasized the importance of mental strength, stating that “As the Olympic Games are approaching, athletes will have a clearer vision of it. They need to undergo a process in their mentality transition and try to find their rhythm in preparation.”

Liu also noted the delicate nature of maintaining a good mental state: “If you are in a good state now, it does not mean that you are in a good state for the Tokyo Olympics; if you are in a bad state now, it does not mean that you are in a bad state for the Tokyo Olympics.”

When discussing China’s women’s singles roster, Chen Meng and Sun Yingsha, neither who have played in the Olympics before, Liu stated, “Every Olympic Games has people who participated for the first time, and they played well for the first time. The most important thing is what kind of mentality they use. If the mentality is good, the psychological pressure will be better handled, and there won’t be too much of an emotional burden on them.”

Liu Downplays Expectations

Although many have China as a shoo-in for gold in each of the Olympic table tennis events, Liu interestingly decided to downplay expectations, “We have the strength to win each of the five gold medals, and we have to confidence to do so. However, there are challenges and risks, especially considering the pace and manner of preparation is quite different in the COVID-19 pandemic. This is the nature of table tennis.”

At least in the women’s events, this remark is in contrast with Deng Yaping’s (who by the looks of things may not be as intimately involved with the national team as Liu) comments last week that Mima Ito was not a serious threat to the Chinese National Team. Liu appeared to have more positive words for their Japanese rivals, stating that “the Japanese table tennis team has been preparing for the Tokyo Olympics for many years, and especially hopes to beat the Chinese team at home, but I think they will give us more motivation. We need such an opponent, and we need such a competition to test the team.”

For what it’s worth, both Mima Ito and Jun Mizutani appear to be confident in their ability to upset China in at least the women’s singles and mixed doubles events.

Liu’s remarks appear to be aimed at relieving pressure from the team and getting them into the desired mental state. “I hope that our players and coaches will not have a burden of sweeping Olympic gold medals like in previous occasions… We cannot carry what we achieved in Rio into these Games, and we have to start from zero in Tokyo.”

“No matter which event, we are determined to win every gold medal. But competitive sports has ups and downs and wins and losses. This is all part of the game, so we don’t put too much pressure on everyone. If you don’t have pressure, you won’t be able to play well, but if you’re under too much pressure, you won’t be able to play well either. Keep a normal mind, put out what you practice, and strive for every piece of work. It’s not about which event is more secure [e.g. team events] and which event we are at risk of losing [e.g. mixed doubles].”

Ma Long at the closed Chinese Olympic Scrimmages

Remarks on the Final Closed Door Training

After the second leg of the Chinese Olympic scrimmages that were broadcast to the public, the National Team has been in closed-door training in Weihai for about 20 days. Liu Guoliang said that the focus of this period is to strengthen the ability and strength of the players. “It’s relatively easy to get out of form in the middle of closed training for about 20 days. This time, everyone’s ability and feeling of competition are better than those in the previous two (Olympic scrimmages). For the last scrimmage, we hope to be more realistic. We expect to be more detailed tactically and in simulating potential Olympic opponents.”

Liu further commented on the utility of the closed-door scrimmages that were held this week, which featured several upsets against the Olympic team including Lin Gaoyuan over Xu Xin, Wang Manyu over Chen Meng and Sun Yingsha, Zhou Qihao over Fan Zhendong, and Zhang Rui over Sun Yingsha. Liu stated, “It served as a test midway through our training. Competing with a more specific target, our players can feel the competitiveness of the games and dig out problems.”

There will be a final closed-door scrimmage on July 8 to July 10. We may expect to see fewer upsets in this scrimmage as Liu further elaborated the differences between the goals of the initial and final scrimmages: “There are warm-up matches before, during and at the end of the closed training, which can play different roles. The early stage is mainly to test the strength, the mid-term test is the improvement and progress of the players after the closed training in the early stage, and the latter is intended to be the final run-in and preparation.”

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Check out  Deng Yaping’s recent comments on the Tokyo Olympics, other interviews, and the rest of our Olympic coverage as well!