He was very successful as a player, as a coach and now as the president. In fact, I live every day seriously and cautiously and make daily reflection on our shortcomings. He is very strong in table tennis. Be thoughtful and be vigilant. It doesn’t matter to lose a few matches. Most importantly don’t be freaked out by your opponents after the defeats. Winning the champion is the big goal. Only a handful of the hundreds of athletes succeed. If an athlete cannot make a living out of competitions, he/she will retire since he/she has to live on. It’s my biggest dream in the future of table tennis. As the new Olympic cycle approaches, this year (2019) is the most crucial year for the preparation for 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The selection process of the Olympics is in the full swing. Liu Guoliang (nicknamed the fat guy who doesn’t know table tennis) is back after leaving the sport for 15 months. The field is deep. He must race against time. The challenges brought by the new role, are more difficult than any tournaments Liu Guoliang has experienced in his career. We live every day meticulously. We reflect on our shortcomings every day. We are mindful of the potential threats. In order to stimulate the potential of the national team, Liu Guoliang introduces the toughest ever result-based evaluation system. From an outsider perspective, the reform has Liu Guoliangs with his back to the wall. He has not left himself a buffer. The evaluation will be based on the results of the Olympic events at major competitions. The passing point is 12000, the higher the points, the more bonuses are awarded. Anyone fails to meet the passing requirement, the coach will have a 50% salary cut as a punishment. Meanwhile, I will be suspended without pay for a year. My objective is to share weal and woe with the team. I have given up numerous of plans until we reached this finalized evaluation system. I came up with a lot of plans but none of them suits like this one which can be carried out at such timing. The Marvellous 12 is back on 28 February. Table tennis fans and supporters traveled to Shenzhen from all over the world. Given their synchronous slogans and specially designed nameplates, to many bystanders, it might look like they are about to attend a pop star concert. 2019, Go Xu Xin! This table tennis fiesta has attracted many fans, as well as ITTF president Mr Thomas Weikert’s attention. Mr Thomas Wikert arrived Shenzhen on 1 March. CTTA president Mr Liu Guoliang had lunch with him. The trials used to be played behind closed doors, now it is broadcast on TV. This time we collaborate with Tencent Sports and introduce some commercial features to the event. I think it is a win-win situation. Wang Nan is commentating. 2-1 Fan Zhendong…Matchpoint From an undisclosed selection meet to a match broadcast on TV and now just a tap away, the Chinese table tennis team, bearing the high hopes of the nation, has been improving themselves and coping with severe market change. That’s the background of the launch of the Marvellous 12. We have upgraded the trials since 2017 by joining forces with Tencent Sports. Other than that we have a big amount of money prize. This is the first step for marketizing table tennis events. As stated in CTTA’s latest merit award measures this is the first time prize money is awarded at the trials the total amount is as high as 5 million RMB yuan. The winner of the men’s singles and women’s singles will be awarded 1 million RMB yuan each, making the Marvellous 12 the most pricey table tennis competition on earth. The Marvellous 12 opening ceremony stunningly commenced in the full glare of the supporters on 1 March. Chinese table tennis athletes proudly jogged up to the stage in space suit and received the cheers from the crowd. 2017 women’s singles world champion,
2016 women’s team and singles Olympic champion
Currently world ranked no.1 Grand-slam winner, Ding Ning. 2018 men’s team world champion
2018 Men’s World Cup winner Currently world ranked no.1, Fan Zhendong. (2018 women’s team champion…) Behind the dazzle and bustle is a lonely soul. Ma Long, the captain of the Chinese table tennis team is wandering around on the backstage. One week before the trials, Ma Long decided to withdraw the Marvellous 12 due to a knee injury. When the recovery was not going well, I was not motivated. However when I am getting better, my attitude and motivation would improve. I haven’t had too many opportunities to train recently. Once I get to train, I really want to train more. Although Ma Long sat out the Marvellous 12, Ma Long is still an influential athlete in the mind of the fans. Recovering from injuries aside, Ma Long has to attend a fan club meeting during the Marvellous 12. The decor of the venue is all well organized by his fans. When fan culture meets competitive sport, the culture shock has drastically changed the sports sphere of this traditional sport. Ma Long, can you say any Japanese word you know? (Japanese) Thank you for coming all the way from Japan. Sunshine rainbow little white horse, you are the strongest and the best. I was wondering who is this Chinese guy named Ma Long. He is awesome and handsome. I love Ma Long from then on. One month later, I went to Chengdu to watch the China Open and cheered for him. Captain Long! Firstly table tennis is a national sport in China. The results achieved by the Chinese team at the Rio Olympics and the previous Games are there for all to see. This is the reason for the high popularity. On the other hand, as Timo Boll said, he is more popular in China than in Germany. This tells Chinese people really love table tennis very much. The Chinese table tennis team has become an online celebrity since the 2016 Rio Olympics. Netizens gave Liu Guoliang a nickname, the fat guy who doesn’t know table tennis. Wherever Ma Long and Zhang Jike go, there will be a frenzy of screaming fangirls. Chinese table tennis athletes becoming trending topics on social media. While offline, there are well-organized fanclub events. We are stunned by these phenomena. The popularity of sports stars is no less than that of pop stars in the entertaining industry. The supporters in the generation when I was an athlete were 18 or 19 years old too. I was around 20 years old back in those days. The youth are daring to express their affection for their idols. They are expressive of likes and hate, their emotions. Sports is a great platform for them. Like any movie marketing, in order to optimize the influence of the trials, table tennis athletes took photo shoots together revealing youth of a different kind. I can’t stand it when you are by my side. Looks good! We beam with delight as if it was Chinese New Year. I could hardly see your eyes! Photographer: How about a swap? Well, I think it’s great but you might want to Photoshop the section in the middle. Fashion photography is conducted for the Marvellous 12 poster. In fact, the team has been putting much attention on marketing campaign. The World Championships song was widely circulated a few years ago. With the stunningly fashionable poster, the popular music video, the captivating Chinese New Year special program, and the collaboration with Tencent Sport on competition, the team has kicked off the sports stars phenomenon. This is pivotal for table tennis marketization. In the last 2 years, the Chinese trials are upgraded to the Marvellous 12. The name, prize money and the branding of the meet have incorporated fashion, entertainment and market features. As an established grand-slam winner, Ding Ning doesn’t need a World Tour title to prove herself. Yet if she wants to continue her Olympic success in 2020 Tokyo, adjusting her physical form and competitiveness will be some of the challenges she may have to overcome. Ding Ning wins 11-9. A tough victory over Chen Meng. So there are no female athletes who are undefeated at the 2019 Marvellous 12. In order to make an impact outside the sports sphere, Ding Ning invited Pan Yueming, a Chinese celebrity and a fan of her, to design the poster of Marvellous 12. The adorable panda in the Chinese National team table tennis gear has a racket in his one hand and showing a victory sign in another, is not just a blessing conveyed by Pan Yueming but a symbol for unity in sports. Pan Yueming: I think panda is an appropriate icon. Since panda is a national staple and table tennis is a national sport in China. Those pursue their dreams and fight for national glory should be respected. This is also the charisma of competitive sports. Mr Pan is a nice guy. He has a positive vibe. His attitude and professionalism are second to none. Even celebrity with high publicity from the entertainment industry can follow table tennis competitions as a fan and be friends of the sports stars. This confirms the impact of table tennis across disciplines. Meanwhile sports stars influence others with their positive vibe. This was a special day for post-2010 Xu Shiwen. She asked her mother to clear her schedule so that she could cheer for her idol, Xu Chenhao, who would compete in Baoan, Shenzhen, 15 km away. I knew him when he visited our school. He taught me how to play table tennis and took pictures with me. A chance encounter during the school visit made Xu Shiwen likes this athlete. (Cheering for Xu Chenhao) Xu Shiwen is now a long-time fan of Xu Chenhao. (Cheering for Xu Chenhao) She learns table tennis because of you.
Xu Chenhao: How old is she? Study hard and train hard. Xu Chenhao: I’ll be waiting for you in the national team. See. Bye. I heard children cheering for me. And people told me the girl came to watch my matches every day and would cry and be unhappy for the entire day when I lost. This is very touching. I never have such feeling before… The sense of pride. There are no ways to describe such feeling. This might be the power of idol. Yet I’ve never thought that I can make an impact on somebody. Let’s see how do you play table tennis. Because of Xu Chenhao, Xu Shiwen loves playing table tennis. This is her first table tennis class. She might face a lot of hardship while playing table tennis. I hope she would overcome all challenges when she plays table tennis and in daily life. The Marvellous 12 has drawn attention of the young people to table tennis and other sports. It’s a great opportunity to promote sports from the athletes’ perspective. Table tennis promotion activities at schools encourage more people understand, follow and take part in the sport. This helps that development of table tennis. Our players will attend more competitions and activities in the future, perhaps sign his name or take a photo with these kids, or share words of encouragement. these will influence the children’s life. The kids would recall these experiences when they face challenges again. They might forget many things as they grow up. As long as these experiences have left a mark in their life, I think these are the things a sports star can do to realize their value. Owing to the emergence of sports stars, increasingly more people like table tennis. And they pursue a better physical and mental health. Sports is a spirit, it is a game. How are we going to get more people to involve in the sport and like the sport, so that table tennis would become part of our daily life, this is an important issue. Apart from the excellent results and positive image, Liu Guoliang has more plans on his agenda. In the CTTA inauguration ceremony in 2018, Liu Guoliang mentioned winning medals at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics aside, he hopes athletes would gradually turn professional. Is it possible that the Chinese national table tennis team will go completely professionalized? I think at this moment we don’t have the conditions to go completely professionalized. But if we don’t make some progress we will never go professionalized. So how? We’ve been saying groping our way across the river since 1999 when we launched the CTTSL. It’s been 20 years and we’re still groping our way. I think it’s time for us to take a step forward. Whether it is a big one or a small one as long as it’s under our control will do. We can try out new things within a manageable range. It seems to Liu Guoliang, the professionalization of table tennis is a process of innovation and exploration. The prize money offered at the Marvellous 12 is a try-out for professionalizing table tennis. The prize money is not assigned to Ma Long or Fan Zhendong or anyone else. It’s awarded to the champion. Athletes will focus on the competition. If one can’t make a living from competitions, he or she would retire since he or she has a life to live. They are human being and they have needs. What are the ways to maintain a sustainable development in table tennis? Liu Guoliang has a blueprint for it already. Apart from winning medals at the Olympics, realizing values of each athlete, and helping athletes to fulfill their dreams, are areas that Liu Guoliang is working on. Only 2 athletes (per NOC) compete in the singles event at the Olympics. How about the other athletes? Are their dreams wasted? No. Not in the professionalized world because there are no quota places limited. As long as the sport is professionlaized, there will be plenty of competitions. The only thing is we need world-class athletes. Moreover, there will be prize money and more development coming up. By doing so, we can retain talented athletes and champions. Professionalizing and marketizing table tennis have been frequently mentioned in recent years. Yao Ming and Li Na are some of the most successful athletes going professional in China. Their examples build up Chinese table tennis’ hope on professionalization. Previously, I watched an excerpt from a movie about Li Na. It’s an imaginary dialogue between her and her father. I am touched by a line that Li Na said she wanted to be a professional athlete. I could feel her determinations and struggles. After all the ups and downs, finally China has a professional tennis athlete, Li Na. With her courage and determination, she successfully makes her way to become a professional athlete. When tennis can make it under difficult circumstances, all we need is courage to make table tennis a professionalized sport. I do believe we have the conditions needed. This is my table tennis dream. A new structure from 2021 on Really good plans to have new events To have new commercial platforms, And I am sure we will work together with CTTA because it’s a win-win situation. It’s a strongest country. It’s our goal and we have to work towards it. If not in 1 year, then in 10 years. If not in 10 years, then in 20 years. I don’t think we will take that long. The strategy includes commercialization, sports stars building, professionalization and internationalization. CTTA is launching a series of innovative measures to carry out the strategic plan. The blueprint is ready and it’s time to walk the talk. Apart from the pursuit of champions the vision and goals of table tennis stakeholders have been set for many years to come. Success don’t come by chance nor does it be guaranteed. Only if Chinese table tennis sticks to its original enthusiasm and bravely explores the unknown, can it secure unparalleled success in the generations to follow.