(Eng Sub) Liu Guoliang Reviewed 2019 World Table Tennis Championships

As I recall, prior to the World Championships the Chinese set themselves a goal. To bring home gold in the men’s singles, women’s singles and mixed doubles events which are the events to be played at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. And do their best in the men’s and women’s doubles events. It’s our pleasure to have CTTA president, Liu Guoliang, here with us today. President Liu, what are your comments on the clean sweep the Chinese team has made at this Championships? I would say this year’s competition may be the most intense, exciting and challenging over the years. Because of the 5 events, 4 finals were played between different associations. Therefore, I think this Championships is a challenging one. You have set the goal of winning the titles of the men’s singles, women’s singles and mixed doubles. So let’s talk about these 3 events. As I observed before the men’s singles finals was played, you grabbed your pips-out penhold racket and went through the warm-ups with Ma Long. Then you made some final reminders before the finals. Can you tell us what did you tell Ma Long? The men’s singles finals is a crucial match. All eyes were on Ma Long, the Chinese team and the world of table tennis. We all know the history. Ma Long made history by winning 3 consecutive men’s singles title. Moreover, he played against Swedish player (Mattias Falck) in the finals. The Swede plays pips-out on his forehand which is unique in the current world-class men’s field. Since I played pips-out on my forehand, Ma Long requested to have me to train with him. Eventually, I became his practice partner before the finals. I told him I watched an interview of J-O Waldner. Waldner said Ma Long is terrific and might win at 4-1. Yet he pointed out Ma Long had never won a European in the finals. I used that quote to motivate Ma Long. I told Ma Long the finals was a virtual battle against Waldner. It also resembled playing against me in 1999 men’s singles finals. We were all standing on the stands watching you. Let’s see if you could beat the Europeans more specifically the Swede. Ma Long did a great job in the finals. The on-court coach of the Swedish player, Jorgen Persson, was our good old rival. He had made good tactics in the match. Anyways, I could understand the pressure on Ma Long’s shoulder. The pressure of this finals was no less than any other major tournaments. Just now he told me the burden was so heavy that he has an upset stomach. I believe those who have never experienced this could hardly imagine how great the pressure is. Your good old rival was sitting on court coaching Mattias Falck. Did you have the impulse to take care of the on-court coaching for Ma Long? During the pre-match meeting last night, coach Qin Zhijian joked that whether I would like to battle over Persson. I replied I have faith in you. We were not just studying our opponent in the meeting. Coach Qin said Persson might make Falck more determined with his tactics. Therefore we saw Falck took the risk of playing to Ma Long’s forehand in game 3 while he was 0-2 down. We reckoned the Swede have the best understanding on table tennis among the Europeans. Having a Swedish player in the finals simply reminisces the good old memory of our youth. How would you see Ma Long’s achievement of winning 2 titles this year and making his third straight win in the singles event? Let’s start with the men’s doubles. We would like to have him to share the experiences with Wang Chuqin. This can build our young generation and prepare for the men’s doubles match in team event at the 2020 Olympics. Ma Long took part in the singles only and we assigned him partnering Wang Chuqin in the men’s doubles which they won. I think this experience is more rewarding for Wang Chuqin. Ma Long had to compete in the singles event which is immensely challenging. Most notably, Xu Xin is the only Chinese in the bottom half of the draw. Ma Long had to overcome 2 Chinese players. This is tough. No matter the opponent is Lin Gaoyuan or Liang Jingkun. They know each other very well. And when they went all out against Ma Long, no one would ever understand the pressure. These are the challenges on the technical side. Whereas the finals is more about the mental pressure. As what Ma Long experienced in the finals was a process of making history and pushing his limits. I told him before the match that he could not escape from these thoughts. Yet your aspiration to win must exceed the pressure on your shoulder. Then you would have the motivation. The matter is could you overcome yourself. And I think he did it. Liu Shiwen told us she had thought of giving up at one moment. How did you encourage her? I believe every athlete has his or her highs and lows. Especially when she encountered some problems in competitions earlier this year. The most important thing for an athlete is to know how to rebounce from hardships. Her performance at the Marvellous 12 was unsatisfying but after a month of closed-door training, she showed up as a different person. I think such transformation is a result of the effort of Li Sun and Ma Lin and the stimulation of the mixed doubles. Overall speaking, the Chinese women have met our expectation. Previously we said we had to consolidate our lead in the women’s field. The advantage the women enjoyed is more significant than that of the men. We had an all-China podium for the women’s singles. This has reflected our prowess. Meanwhile, despite falling short from the podium, Sun Yingsha defeated Mima Ito. She also walked away with the women’s doubles title (partnering Wang Manyu) It was a full house for the women’s team. The associations are taking mixed doubles more seriously since the event has introduced to 2020 Tokyo Olympics. What are your comments on Xu Xin and Liu Shiwen? As they won the mixed doubles world champion. They are our top mixed doubles since they paired up in the second-half of 2018. We have assigned them to compete at numbers of World Tours and World Championships. They bear a lot of pressure indeed. I told them and their coaches Chen Qi and Ma Lin, they must win every match whoever their opponents were. That’s because only one mixed pair per each association could make to the Olympics. If the pair would like to represent China in Tokyo, they must treat every match like the Olympics. We have been putting pressure on them and working on the details for a long time. Yet in one of the match, we almost lost at 0-2 down and had to make a difficult comeback to win 4-3 over the Koreans. If we missed the details, we could have lost the match. At this Championships, we found that every association has put much effort on mixed doubles since the event has added to the Olympics. Perhaps the mixed doubles is China’s nemesis. We have not put much attention on the mixed doubles as compare to the other events in the past. And only one entry could be made per association at the Olympics. Thinking in the shoes of other associations, I would put my focus on this event. So, I don’t think we’re safe even we have won the title at this Championships. The mixed doubles will be a crucial event at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. After the observation of this year’s Championships, who are the potential rivals from other associations? Let’s talk about the women’s field. They standout pretty clearly. They are the Japanese players. Among the Japanese players, Mima Ito is their stronger player. Apart from Mima Ito, there are a few solid Japanese players who could threaten the Chinese. Whereas I don’t see significant improvement from other associations. The men’s field is wide open. It’s a wild game. You can never make predictions. Even if we studied some major rivals beforehand, it turned out we did not play against each other. I am not just talking about the Championships but the World Tour as well. I would say it’s anyone’s game for the men’s field. There are always some Europeans burst onto the scene. The Koreans were sharp at the Championships. The team led by Kim Taeksoo has a strong fighting spirit. Especially the 19 year-old dark horse of the tournament An Jaehyun. He made to the semifinals and almost advanced to the finals. I think we have to pay special attention to the athletes who trained under such coach. We Chinese won’t just focus on the Japanese team but the world. We are the world’s target so we should study closely on athletes of different associations. How does the clean sweep set the team up leading to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics? There are always two sides of the same coin. The up side is that this success gives us confidence and has put the team to the test. On the contrary, people will have higher expectation on us. We are still the same team. Our goal is to secure the 3 titles and do our best in the other two. Competitions are ever-changing. We must maintain a good mental game. Just like the World Championships, which we strive to win the 3 events to be played at the Olympics, but as long as we are in good shape, we can win all 5 titles. We have the odds to win all 5 but risks exist at the same time. We can’t treat the Olympics as the same scenario as the Championships. The 2 events are totally different. At least our athletes, coaches and members of the team have learned and tried out something from this Championships. With this Championships experience, we will prepare for the upcoming Olympics more strategically. What is the team’s plan after the Championships? We will head back to China tomorrow. We will do an evaluation in details once we arrive Beijing. There are 6 men and 6 women, a total of 12 athletes taking part in the Championships. We have 2 tasks ahead. Firstly, we have to reflect on the gains and losses. Secondly, most importantly, most of the athletes did not win the champion, we have to take care of their emotions and confidence so that they can come back stronger. 2020 Tokyo Olympics is approaching, we have no time for the tears. All we can do is to make the team stronger. So I ask table tennis fans and team members do encourage those who were upset at the Championships. Your encouragement is their biggest motivation. Thank you president Liu and congratulations to the Chinese national table tennis team.

3 thoughts on “(Eng Sub) Liu Guoliang Reviewed 2019 World Table Tennis Championships

  1. What a wise man! Humble in victory and being realistic about the challenges faced by CNT. Love the way he motivated Ma Long (now I can see why Ma Long shouted "I am (of) made in China" at the end). Being talented is one thing, but having the work ethics and right mentality is equally important and LGL is the guy that brings all of those to the athletes. Also love the way they also take into account of the human factor and getting them overcome their disappointment as a priority. Rest of the world will unfortunately have a hard time compete with these guys for a long time!

    Btw, thanks for the video with sub. You have always been my go to source for quality videos like this ?

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